Kara Swisher

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Weiner Nabs CEO Job at LinkedIn; Hoffman to Executive Chairman (Plus the Official Press Release)

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In a move that many in the Silicon Valley chattering classes were certainly wondering about, former Yahoo exec Jeff Weiner has been named CEO of LinkedIn, the largest social network focused on professionals.

Weiner (pictured here), 39, who has been the president of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company since late last year, will also join the board of directors.

Current CEO, Chairman and founder Reid Hoffman–whose second title will be slightly changed to executive chairman and who will continue to work on a daily basis at LinkedIn–said the move was not part of the preparations for an initial public offering but because Weiner had already been handling the duties of CEO for some time.

“Jeff has really had our team reporting to him and has been doing a lot of what a CEO does for months now,” said Hoffman. “So, we wanted to project that to the world what was already projected internally.”

Before coming to LinkedIn, Weiner ran the Network division of Yahoo (YHOO), putting him in charge of most of its consumer offerings.

He left the Internet giant a year ago and did a brief stint as an executive-in-residence at two Silicon Valley venture firms–Accel Partners and Greylock Partners–before joining LinkedIn in December.

Weiner listed a number of priorities moving forward, including scaling the network, increasing the user base and engagement, improving user experience and product ease, juicing up search, further expanding internationally and strengthening the platform and third-party developer relationships.

Phew, but he left out improving the food in the cafeteria!

“We have done a lot over the last six months to really grow this professional network,” said Weiner, who noted that the company had beaten its internal projections. “And we are positioned well to reach our full potential.”

For now, to both Weiner and Hoffman, that means growth and further girding the bottom line.

LinkedIn, which said it has 42 million members worldwide, has a more diversified business model than other social-networking sites, with “three lines of revenue, including premium subscriptions, corporate solutions and advertising.”

Hoffman said the company was profitable in 2008 and is expected to be profitable in 2009, although he declined to provide either revenue or profit figures.

One striking figure, of course, is the more than $100 million in funding LinkedIn has gotten since it was founded, which had given it a massive valuation of over $1 billion.

That’s why many have been watching for either an IPO or a sale of LinkedIn. Many possible acquirers have been bandied about in the past, including News Corp. (NWS), which owns Dow Jones, owner of this site.

But Hoffman discounted either path for now.

“We are entirely focused on building the company and not on the run-up you make for a public offering,” he said.

Added Weiner: “We are working on how you build a strong company for the long term.”

Here’s the official press release on the news:

LinkedIn Names Jeff Weiner Chief Executive Officer

Co-founder Reid Hoffman continues as Executive Chairman

Mountain View, CA–June 24, 2009–LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, today announced that Jeff Weiner has been named LinkedIn’s chief executive officer and appointed to the board of directors. Reid Hoffman will remain focused on LinkedIn in his day-to-day role as founder and executive chairman.

Since joining LinkedIn as interim president in January 2009, Weiner has overseen all operations and played a defining role in developing and executing the company’s strategy to address the accelerating demand for LinkedIn’s products and services on a global basis. “Working closely with Reid and the team over the past six months exceeded all of my expectations coming into the company,” said Weiner. “I couldn’t be more excited about our progress to date, and the opportunity ahead of us.”

“LinkedIn was founded to harness the power of the internet to create a tool that would help individuals become more effective and successful professionals,” said Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman, LinkedIn. “Over the past six months, Jeff has done an exceptional job leading the company and I look forward to continuing the work that we have begun together.”

In the past year, LinkedIn has achieved records across virtually all key operating and financial metrics, most recently exceeding 42 million global members. LinkedIn has an established business model with three lines of revenue, including premium subscriptions, corporate solutions and advertising. The company operated profitably in 2008 and is expected to be profitable in 2009. LinkedIn has secured more than $100 million in funding from some of the world’s premiere investors.

Weiner brings more than 14 years of consumer web experience to the position. Prior to joining LinkedIn as interim president, Weiner was executive in residence at Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. He had previously held key leadership roles at Yahoo!, most recently serving as executive vice president of Yahoo!’s Network Division with responsibility for Yahoo!’s consumer web product portfolio, including Yahoo!’s Front Page, Mail, Search and Media products. In addition to LinkedIn, Weiner serves on the boards of DonorsChoose.org and Malaria No More. For more information, please see Jeff Weiner’s LinkedIn profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffweiner08.


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