LinkedIn CEO on competing with Yammer or Chatter
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner hinted today that the company is thinking about enterprise social networking as a possible area of expansion, but cautioned that any product wouldn't look like current products on the market like Microsoft Yammer or Salesforce Chatter.
At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference (video), TechCrunch editor Eric Eldon asked Weiner to describe the company's internal development process, and how the company sometimes takes tools built for internal use and pushes them out to the public.
I think you're referring specifically to how at LinkedIn we're eating in our own restaurant, and leveraging LinkedIn to generate value for our employees. It's important there to draw a distinction between a public professional network, which is what LinkedIn is -- most of the content being shared on there is public by design -- and a private professional network, which is what you'll increasingly see within the enterprise, where there's sensitive information, competitive information. So at LinkedIn we're building tools that will enable us to get more value from our own platform. And success, to the extent that we generate the right kind of engagement and the right kind of productivity enhancement, we would then be in the position by virtue of the platform to think about productizing that.
Eldon followed up by mentioning Yammer and Chatter, to which Weiner responded:
We'd want it to be specific and unique to what we offer today. You would see greater emphasis on professional identity, for example. But again, there's no definitive plans to offer that as a product. What we're trying to do is leverage LinkedIn and as employees get as much value from that.
This is pretty vague, but it's not the first time Weiner has hinted at this path. On an earnings call in August 2011, Weiner said the company "fully expected" to create tools that were meant to be used exclusively within the workplace.
Weiner also said that more than 3 million businesses are using LinkedIn to display information about themselves to the world. So it's too not much of a stretch to imagine businesses setting up employees-only versions of their company pages that contain internal information, then using them as de facto intranet sites.
This would address one of the big problems with today's enterprise social products -- low employee engagement. Employees are already using LinkedIn, so companies wouldn't have to pester them to sign up for and learn a new intranet system. LinkedIn is also popular among recruiters, which makes it a natural fit for HR departments to advertise internal benefits to their employees.
Again, it's just a hint, but it's not the first time LinkedIn has glanced in this direction so it's worth watching.
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