Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

LinkedIn’s IPO Pops Traffic, Too. Your Turn, Pandora…

Add this to your “seems bubbly but it’s not a bubble, because this time it’s different” file: LinkedIn’s traffic, which had been slumping, has perked up since its IPO.

LinkedIn’s U.S. user base jumped 6.7 percent in May, following a 2.5 percent decline in April, says Bloomberg, citing Comscore data.

Does that have anything to do with the fact that LinkedIn had a widely publicized public debut in May, which saw shares jump to dizzying heights on the first day of trading?*

Could be! And that kind of bump brings back hazy memories of “the IPO as branding event,” when Bubble 1.0 companies tried to use public offerings as marketing campaigns to announce their existence.

To be fair, we need to point out that LinkedIn spent years building a dedicated user base of millions, some of whom actually pay for the service, in advance of its IPO.

And there’s nothing wrong with leveraging the publicity that an IPO can generate, anyway: If traffic didn’t increase following last month’s hype, it would be a bit odd.

Speaking of hype, it should be reasonable to expect a similar bump for Pandora, which prices today and starts trading on the NYSE tomorrow. In tech/media/investmentland, we’re all very familiar with the service and its story, but the wider world has just the fuzziest notion of what it is. I can vouch for this myself, as I’ve spent the last few days explaining Pandora basics to (very nice) TV and radio journalists working on IPO pieces.

*They’ve since come down and are trading below their first-day close.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik