As LinkedIn continues to wait for the close of its $26.2 billion acquisition by Microsoft, it continues to build out its business, with the latest developments on the international front. Last week, LinkedIn announced that it had hit 100 million users in Asia Pacific (around one-quarter of its total), and today at an event in Bengaluru, India, it unveiled three new products it’s rolling out in India, where it has 37 million users, that it hopes will now get them (and others) using the site more.
LinkedIn Lite is a new pared-down mobile version of LinkedIn that is designed to work on lower-end handsets and those that are accessing the site with limited or very expensive mobile data services. It will be rolling out in the next couple of weeks, a spokesperson tells me.
Meanwhile, the company has also launched a service called LinkedIn Placements to provide an online test for users and help place them in jobs. And for businesses, it’s launched LinkedIn Starter Pack to set up and run their profiles on the social platform.
LinkedIn Lite. Today at the event in Delhi, CEO Jeff Weiner said that LinkedIn Lite would be rolling out to users in the country in the next few months. As with other “lite” versions made for mobile, LinkedIn’s service does away with things like extra graphics and rich media to download four times faster than LinkedIn’s basic mobile site. The company claims the homepage only takes up 150 KB of data, and further pages 70 KB.
From the looks of the screenshots here, it appears the Lite version may simply be turned on by default in situations where bandwidth might be tight: as you can see the URL is LinkedIn’s basic linkedin.com.
LinkedIn Lite is a late entrant into a market that has seen a number of other attempts to grow usage numbers in India by meeting their mobile data demands: while the vast majority of people in India (which is the world’s second largest smartphone market after China) use mobile phones rather than PCs to access the internet, more generally data is very expensive for the average user, and connectivity is not as fast.
Facebook has been offering pared-down versions of its own social network for years now aimed at developing markets. They include Facebook Lite, an Android app launched in 2015. And Zero, a text-only version introduced in 2010. Controversially, it’s also worked with carriers to launch free versions of its site, too, under the Basics brand: many complained, however, that the service violated net neutrality rules and it eventually got shut down in India. Twitter has also worked on ways of developing its own lighter versions and specific services for markets like India.
LinkedIn Placements. While Lite is designed to get people using LinkedIn more on a daily basis, Placements is a service aimed at making LinkedIn more practical and useful for them.
Here, LinkedIn has partnered with HackerRank, as well as Aspiring Minds, Co-cubes and Wheebox, to develop an online test for users to show off their skills and interests, which are then matched up with a number of jobs being advertised on the site. You then proceed with the usual job finding process that involves interviews, references and more. There are some 50 jobs already up for Placements through the scheme in areas like software development, marketing and finance. (The emphasis initially seems to be software: HackerRank, which powers the first test, specialises in engineering and programming skills tests.)
Placements is an interesting development that touches several parts of LinkedIn’s bigger business strategy. The company has been moving very aggressively into online education services, spearheaded perhaps most obviously with its acquisition of Lynda.com, and this is an interesting development that ties in another way of using the online testing format to help boost another part of LinkedIn’s business.
That other part, of course, is recruitment advertising, which today is the company’s biggest revenue driver. Right now, while LinkedIn is spreading the word about the Placement service to would-be jobseekers, it’s also encouraging businesses to place their ads on the platform to match up those people with positions.
In a market that may have a lot of self-taught programmers and others, it provides one way of trying to circumvent the normal course of students graduating from a particular university, or otherwise be overlooked in the job market. This also potentially gives LinkedIn a more central place in how it believes its platform can influence what Weiner has described as the “economic graph” of our society.
The other area where Placements will help LinkedIn’s bigger business is in getting more users to give it more information. Part of the scheme involves updating and filling out your own profile on the site before you take the online test, which will give LinkedIn a new opportunity to pick up fresh and accurate data about you.
Starter Pack. The last of these is less obvious for consumer users but is an interesting compendium to how LinkedIn hopes to grow its profile as a directory for businesses online, and potentially develop those relationships, too. The promise for the companies that build profiles on LinkedIn’s platform is that they can market themselves better: “Grow your Brand. Grow your Team. Grow your Influence,” is how LinkedIn describes it. More practically, it will give LinkedIn an avenue to court these companies for more recruitment and other ads; and perhaps down the line, after the deal with Microsoft closes, it will give it an avenue to sell more Microsoft products to them, too.
“India is a vital market for LinkedIn, as we work towards realising our vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce,” said Akshay Kothari, Country Manager and Head of Product, LinkedIn India, in a statement. Kothari joined LinkedIn when the company acquired Pulse, the newsreading app he co-founded. “It’s already one of the world’s most important economies, and continues to experience strong GDP growth. While LinkedIn has grown multiple folds in India since we started operating here 6 years ago, there’s so much more we want to do here. We are committed to India and to boosting our ability to deliver value to even more members and be a part of their professional growth journey, by investing and innovating locally.”