Microsoft's LinkedIn purchase is starting to pay off

More growth expected for social media platform

The Microsoft-owned social media platform LinkedIn is growing faster than previously estimated.

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Market research firm eMarketer said this week that LinkedIn has 62.1 million adult users in the U.S. and that base is expected to grow by 4.2 percent to 64.7 million next year. By 2023, the firm estimates LinkedIn will have 68.8 million adult users in the U.S.

The social platform’s revenues are also expected to rise, according to eMarketer. The firm estimates LinkedIn will draw $1.59 billion in ad revenue alone this year and that figure will grow by 11.2 percent next year to $1.77 billion.

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It’s a sign that Microsoft’s $27 billion bet on LinkedIn could be paying off. The tech company bought the social media platform in 2016.

LinkedIn brought in $6.75 billion in revenue in its previous fiscal year, according to Microsoft. That represented a 28 percent increase, or $1.5 billion, from 2018 to 2019. That revenue jump followed 27 percent growth in user sessions.

That growth in user sessions is likely no accident. In 2018, Microsoft said it was tying a portion of CEO Satya Nadella’s performance-based compensation to the number of LinkedIn sessions.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at the Future Decoded conference in Mumbai, India, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

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“LinkedIn continues to innovate its platform and offerings for both users and advertisers,” eMarketer principal analyst Jillian Ryan said in a statement on the firm’s website.

Ryan called LinkedIn “a slower follow” compared to other social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but pointed to features like LinkedIn Live and Events as ways the platform has moved to continue engaging users.

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“While these new experiences aren’t unique to LinkedIn, the use for cases for professional audiences can be differentiators for maintaining current users and attracting new ones,” she said.

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LinkedIn is a business-focused social media platform.

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Overall, LinkedIn says it has more than 645 million members, according to Microsoft’s 2019 annual report. The platform accounts for about a third of social network users in the U.S., according to eMarketer.

Still, the platform has had its troubles like other social media companies. In September, a federal appeals court ruled that another company can collect information from public LinkedIn profiles. And officials have warned that Chinese agents have used LinkedIn to recruit espionage assets.

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