For LinkedIn, First Comes IPO, Then Comes Marriage to Google?
It’s an open secret in Silicon Valley that LinkedIn, which is perpetually the topic of IPO speculation, is close to finally taking the public plunge.
Reuters reported this week that the company plans to go public in 2011. We’ve heard much the same and that the professional network will likely file papers within the next few months.
But, according to several sources, there are other interesting scenarios for LinkedIn in the coming year.
Top on the list is an acquisition, either right after a filing or even after a public offering.
The quick public-to-private transition is not unprecedented. And early in its history LinkedIn had been courted by bigger companies, including Dow Jones.
Of the potential acquirers these days, many point to Google as the most obvious suitor. (Microsoft would be another.)
Why would Google is interested in buying LinkedIn?
First, LinkedIn is a social service that’s clearly distinct from Facebook.
But would LinkedIn be the solution to Google’s existential questions about getting social?
That’s unclear, but the company does fit in on a thematic level with the search giant’s cloud-hosted enterprise product line. In addition, LinkedIn has created a central repository for corporate information and business people, which is already quite searchable but could be put to more uses.
How much is LinkedIn worth? Recent purchases of its stock have valued the company at more than $2 billion. Pushing the company toward the public markets would help set a price range up higher.
But things could get interesting very quickly if Google also managed to buy Twitter. Google has long eyed the real-time information network, which recently completed a big funding round that valued the company at $3.7 billion.
For under $10 billion then, Google could really shake things up in the social space.
Here’s LinkedIn’s standard comment on the IPO talk, which is no fun at all:
“We don’t comment on speculation. An IPO is one of many tactics that we could choose to pursue. We are focused on building our business and doing what is in the best long-term interest of LinkedIn members and shareholders.”