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LinkedIn starts social news service LinkedIn Today

LinkedIn Today is the latest feature the company is rolling out to make its website more popular as it prepares to go public. The service will let users tap into articles that are being shared by their connections.

March 11, 2011|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Francisco— — LinkedIn Corp. unveiled a social news service Thursday in an effort to broaden its appeal to the more than 90 million people who use the professional network as it prepares to become the first in what is likely to be a string of high-profile social networks going public in coming months.

LinkedIn Today is the latest feature the Mountain View, Calif., company has rolled out to make its website a more popular destination. The service will let users tap into articles that are being shared by their connections or by people in their industries.

LinkedIn, which makes money through advertising and by offering premium services, is popular with job hunters, but user activity on the site has lagged behind that of others. In its prospectus for an initial public offering, LinkedIn warned that a "substantial majority" of its users don't visit the website on a monthly basis.

The company is betting that offering users a personalized stream of news will lure them to spend more time on the site.

LinkedIn says it will have an edge in aggregating news for time-strapped professionals as it goes up against heavyweights such as Google Inc. Already professionals have been sharing content on the website by connecting their Twitter account to their LinkedIn account.

"When we make truly life-changing decisions, we don't use search; we rely on the people we trust," said Deep Nishar, LinkedIn's senior vice president of products and user experience.

LinkedIn filed for the public offering in January but did not say how much it planned to raise or when it planned to do it. The move heightened expectations for the professional networking site, which is under pressure to demonstrate that it can engage its users as other social networking sites such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. compete for their time and attention.

LinkedIn's chief executive, Jeff Weiner, said his company was rolling out products aimed at "changing the way people work" by becoming their "professional profile of record" and offering tools that deliver information that is relevant to their professional lives. Those tools include a mapping service that shows users their professional connections.

"It's a big change for LinkedIn because they have always been really good at collecting data but haven't been as good at presenting insights to their users," said Susan Etlinger, a consultant with research firm Altimeter Group. "Now they are trying to understand the implications of the data they are collecting and use that to provide value back to their users."

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

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