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LinkedIn files for IPO, reveals sales of $161 million

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Business social network LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering late Thursday, offering the first public glimpse into the finances of the seven-year-old Web company.

LinkedIn turned a profit of $10.1 million on revenue of $161 million in the first nine months of 2010, according to documents filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But it may not last: "We expect our revenue growth rate to decline, and as we continue to invest for future growth, we do not expect to be profitable on a GAAP basis in 2011," the company warned in its filing.

In 2009, its last full fiscal year, LinkedIn had a loss of $4 million on sales of $120.2 million. The company has been in the red every year except 2006, when it turned a slight profit on revenue of $32 million.

The company isn't hurting for cash: It's currently sitting on a stash of $89.6 million. LinkedIn filed to raise up to $175 million in its offering, but that's a preliminary number and companies often change those targets as they get closer to their IPO.

The professional networking site launched in May 2003, and it's now adding one new user every second. LinkedIn has more than 90 million users, with more than half of its members located outside of the United States.

But LinkedIn warned about increased competition both stateside and overseas, naming Facebook, Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) and Twitter as rivals who "could develop competing solutions or partner with third parties to offer such products." It also called out Xing in Germany and Viadeo in France.

In the three months ending in September, 65 million unique users visited LinkedIn's site.

The company now has 990 employees -- though many of them are newbies. LinkedIn said that more than half of its staff has been with the company for less than one year, and 74% joined within the past two years.

CEO Jeff Weiner pulled in a $250,000 salary and a $211,055 bonus in 2010.

LinkedIn has a dual-stock structure, which gives the company's insiders sigificant control over shareholder decisions even after others become stockholders. Google and Facebook have similar structures.

Co-founder Reid Hoffman and other executives hold Class B shares, which have 10 times the voting power of the Class A shares LinkedIn will sell to the public. It's a structure that's controversial with shareholder advocates but popular among Silicon Valley companies, which want to ensure that their founders are able to enforce their vision.

"The holders of our Class B common stock collectively will continue to control a majority of the combined voting power of our common stock even when the shares of Class B common stock represent as little as 10% of the combined voting power of all outstanding shares," LinkedIn wrote in its SEC filing. "This concentrated control will limit your ability to influence corporate matters for the foreseeable future."

The path to IPO: LinkedIn has raised more than $100 million in venture capital funding from big names including Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), McGraw-Hill, Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital and Greylock Partners.

The company has been open about its interest in an IPO.

In an August interview with Bloomberg, CEO Jeff Weiner said, "an IPO, being public, raising money -- that's really a tactic that helps us ultimately achieve that long-term objective."

Investors have been snapping up LinkedIn stock on the secondary market, where accredited investors can buy shares of companies that don't trade on public exchanges. SecondMarket, the largest private-stock exchange, said recently that LinkedIn represented 7% of its transactions last quarter -- a distant second to Facebook's 39%.

On SharesPost, a smaller rival exchange, shares of LinkedIn have traded in the last quarter at prices of $22 to $23.50 per share. That gave the company an implied valuation of $2.2 billion.

This is the second bit of tech IPO news in as many days. Demand Media (DMD) opened 2011 with a pop for the Web sector: Its stock ended 33% higher after it made its public debut Wednesday.

-Tech Editor Stacy Cowley contributed to this report. To top of page

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