SAN FRANCISCO — In a major leadership shake-up at one of Silicon Valley's hottest companies, LinkedIn Corp. founder Reid Hoffman is retaking the helm and bringing in former Yahoo Inc. executive Jeff Weiner as interim president.
Hoffman will replace Chief Executive Dan Nye, a veteran software executive recruited nearly two years ago who has helped propel dramatic growth at one of the standouts among social networks.
Weiner will oversee day-to-day operations while retaining his roles as executive-in-residence at venture capital firms Greylock Partners and Accel Partners. Greylock is an investor in LinkedIn. Weiner would not say how long he planned to stay at LinkedIn, which has aspirations of going public when the stock market perks up.
LinkedIn is a service that lets professionals create online profiles that help them more easily connect with other professionals to get advice, find jobs or business prospects and make key hires. It is a rare money-maker among Silicon Valley social networking sites, with its revenue increasing tenfold over the last few years as the number of users jumped to 33 million.
That success helped LinkedIn raise $80 million in venture capital this year, giving the 6-year-old Mountain View, Calif., company a valuation of $1 billion.
Weiner, who has been informally advising LinkedIn and will report to Hoffman, has been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang. He has more than 14 years of consumer Web experience, holding leadership roles at Yahoo. It is not clear whether he is being groomed for a more permanent role at LinkedIn.
"I am here to help Reid make [his] vision a reality, execute it and scale it," Weiner said in a joint interview with Hoffman and Nye.
The LinkedIn shuffle was triggered by the company's high-profile hire this month of Dipchand "Deep" Nishar, the Google Inc. executive behind the search giant's mobile business and other products. Nishar is now leading LinkedIn's efforts to develop new products and services, which has allowed Hoffman to shift his focus full time to directing strategy and vision.
"We are poised to drive the company to the next level," Hoffman said.
Nye said he would remain aboard until mid-January to ease the transition. He will also continue to advise the firm. He said his departure, which he has discussed with Hoffman for the last few months, was right for him and right for LinkedIn. Hoffman was LinkedIn's CEO for the first four years.
"Reid is the right guy to take the company forward," Nye said.
Despite the turbulent economy, Hoffman said LinkedIn had not seen a dip in advertising, which accounts for about 20% of its revenue. Job listings have remained steady while page views have risen as workers fear for their jobs or lose them.
Still, LinkedIn has not gone untouched in the downturn that has roiled Silicon Valley and cost the region tens of thousands of jobs. The company recently laid off 36 people, about 10% of its staff. And LinkedIn must figure out how to get users to spend more time on its site. Its growth has been eclipsed by that of Facebook, which now has 140 million members and a $15-billion market value based on an investment made by Microsoft Corp. last year (although it is believed to be worth less now).
Hoffman, an early investor in Facebook, says he's optimistic but is keeping a worried eye on the economy.
"Every rational person is nervous about what 2009 looks like," he said.