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Business News/ Companies / People/  LinkedIn’s last million members came in just four days: Dipchand Nishar
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LinkedIn’s last million members came in just four days: Dipchand Nishar

LinkedIn’s Dipchand Nishar talks about his experience with mobility products and the company’s India strategy

Dipchand Nishar says that in spite of some spillover, the lines between various social media platforms are not blurring. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint (Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)Premium
Dipchand Nishar says that in spite of some spillover, the lines between various social media platforms are not blurring. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
(Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)

Mumbai: Dipchand “Deep" Nishar, social networking website LinkedIn’s senior vice-president of products and user experience, insists that the lines between various social media platforms are not blurring. LinkedIn will continue to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive, Nishar said in an interview on Friday.

He also spoke about his experience with mobility products, efforts to create a global economic graph, and the company’s India strategy, given that almost 10% of LinkedIn’s users are from the country. Edited excerpts:

You left Google to join LinkedIn and have completed almost five years. How has the experience been?

Someone asked me when I left Google after a fairly great career of almost six years: ‘Why are you leaving?’ I said I had the opportunity to build some great businesses at Google, and now wanted to go help build a great company. That’s what my journey at LinkedIn in the past five years has been like.

When I joined in January 2009, we were about 300 people and 32 million members. We had done $78 million in revenue the year before. Now we have 238 million members and we are growing at two-three new members every second. The first million members took almost two years. Our last million members came in just four days.

For the full year 2012, our revenue increased 86% to $972.3 million from $522.2 million.

Can you highlight some of your successes at LinkedIn?

The second is that fundamentally going back to building a culture that is very mission driven.

The third thing we have also done is building a very product-centric culture. And this ethos comes really from our founders.

Looking at Apple Inc.’s success in the past couple of years, everyone has been talking about this product-driven culture. We have had it for a while and though we did not make it popular, we have been living it. I hold back products for weeks if they are not right, and that's why we went from nowhere to being a leading publishing platform.

Tell us a little about the Global Economic Graph that LinkedIn has been working on?

Out of the 1.3 billion people today that work for a living, 600 million are white collar professionals. How do you fundamentally match their skills with the right kinds of opportunity? If you take the example of Detroit, there is an excess of 20% of unemployment in youth (age 25 and below). At the same time, in the San Francisco Bay area, there are 30,000 technology jobs that go unfulfilled even as we speak. That is a mismatch.

The main problem is that people in Detroit don’t know about these jobs. And people in Silicon Valley don’t know about these people. This is a small example but if you take this at scale, there are massive inefficiencies.

Every professional who is on LinkedIn is representing who they are, what they know and what we can derive from the skill sets they have.

There are also organizations who are posting hundreds and thousands of jobs every year, and we know the kinds of needs there are globally. So we can now start creating a graph where the nodes are not just people but can be skills, organizations or even geographies. Some of this we are beginning to do already.

With almost 10% of your users coming from India, will India feature on the graph?

It will, but we haven’t started working on it as yet. But you have to have good third-party data also. LinkedIn in India has got a great response from professional members. We had three million members four years ago to now over 21 million members. It is one of our fastest-growing markets in the world and Indian professionals, pre-professionals and college graduates make up a very important part of our demographic.

You have two Indian development centres—the first and only ones outside your headquarters. What kind of work takes place here?

We are very excited to have our only R&D centres outside of the US in India—in Delhi and Bangalore. In Delhi, we have a huge presence, in engineering and product development for SlideShare (LinkedIn acquired SlideShare—co-founded by Rashmi Sinha of Indian origin—in May 2012).

In Bangalore, we manage all network operations and develop really cool technologies for India. A vast majority of engineers at LinkedIn are Indians or of India origin. And that is common in Silicon Valley in general. Both of these are global centres and work on products and memberships for around the world.

Your strength has also been mobility...

Two-and-a-half years ago. we had only 8% of our users on mobile. Now we are over 30% globally. India is very unique again, as more Internet usage happens on the mobile than on another device. We don’t have a number for that yet, but it’s reasonably substantial. We will see more special purpose apps going forward.

Recently, we launched an app called LinkedIn Contacts which is still in its beta stage. In a network, the biggest, most important, thing is to nurture the network. I use the app religiously and it tells me about significant changes in the network.

The way social media networking sites such as Facebook, Google Hangouts and Twitter are operating today, the boundaries appear to be blurring. What’s your sense?

Spillovers do happen in platforms but I don’t think the boundaries are blurring. We focus on professional and don’t venture into other things. You don’t see us doing photo sharing or doing games as that would work very well. A great example would be a dating app. One of the biggest challenges with dating online is that people lie. On LinkedIn, you can’t really lie. We could get into that, but that’s a grey area between professional and non-professional.

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Published: 02 Oct 2013, 07:44 PM IST
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