Unconfirmed: Murdoch to buy LinkedIn.com for $1.8bn to "Link In" Online, TV & Print Networks

Rupert Murdoch will acquire LinkedIn for $1.8bn, and combine it with his purchase of the Wall Street Journal, as well as Fox Business TV, to create an Online, Print and TV conglomerate with a single Social Network to consolidate its business audience across these media. It is thought that an acquisition or partnership with Business Radio and Mobile Voice & Data Services will follow, which may be combined with Wireless Internet (WiFi) provision.

That's all speculation on my part. But I think that something like that this is going to happen soon - here are eight factors that lead me to think so: —

1) LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman is also a shareholder in FaceBook. Linkedin had $60m revenues in 2006, but sought the small sum of $13m in January 2007, and their Series B investors make up a Silicon Valley A-List. It's thought that this funding was required to 'pretty up' LinkedIn prior to major expansion to or to get them ready for acquisition. Around 45% of their income comes from large corporations who use LinkedIn for recruiting.

2) Murdoch is not in the habit of overlooking opportunities for synergy and integration, and for saving money. Such a strategy would allow him to cross-fertilise at least two elements of his media empire.

3) Television revenues are decreasing, and the advertising money is moving inexorably online. However, TV content can earn more when delivered to more devices, especially business news delivered at critical times. The Wall Street Journal / Dow Jones has long made revenue from providing business and financial information on a time-critical basis.

4) Business TV, especially news updates, are ideal for portable devices like iPhone and iPOD / Blackberry, and business users are not averse to paying for quality content to be delivered to them.

5) The content that used to be classified as Business Radio is finding a successful channel in iPod / downloadable format, with content easily distributed (and sold) via iTunes. Sponsored content is a growing model, where a sponsor pays for the cost of the programming in return for being able to brand the content beyond 'commercial breaks'.

6) Device convergence, where a Phone is also a Web browser and a way to send and receive Email and Multimedia, will also become a broadcasting and networking tool. As wireless data bandwidth increases, mobile bloggers and freelance business reporters will become more common, and in the same way that videophone gives access to areas difficult to cover with satellite, or when satellites are deployed elsewhere, or not available immediately, one might see WSJ or Fox 'reporters on the scene' at major company AGMs or quarterly results announcements.

7) Online Business Networking has been steadily growing, but the fastest growth has taken place with free services. Only a relatively small percentage of a network will generally pay for extra tools, better features and ease of connectivity. With business news and intelligence delivered as part of a paid package into a Social Network's content, this model will be easier tho change, so that more users will pay to benefit from having that exclusive content - which will also stimulate additional user generated comment & analysis.

8) Murdoch will also be aware that LinkedIn are planning to open up their API to outside programmers, in the same way that Facebook has done so successfully since May of this year. Plaxo, an address book co-ordination service, in its version 3 Beta, featured a synchronisation feature for LinkedIn - which may be using an early version of the LinkedIn API. Imagine seeing a story on a particular business, and with a click, being able to query your contact database to see your closest connection to that company - or to initiate a contact if one does not already exist through the LinkedIn network.


With such an integration of media, the amount of information available from the users' own data and network will allow for micro- channels and on the fly content programming based on tagging, social bookmarking and 'zeitgeist' features. Geotagging of data and mini-blogs with services such as Twitter will start to be adopted by business users, and will be used to market services in real time, and where a 'cloud' of demand can be created and served around a specific business event (like a WSJ or Fox sponsored conference). An application that acts as 'glue' across different social media is something that Plaxo is already approaching with 'Pulse' which it terms "people feeds" accessing data on those in your networks across many different social networks, and adding this type of feature to business news and financial media is a natural progression.

It might not be Murdoch. It might not be LinkedIn. It might be Yahoo, Google, or it could be that AOL makes the move. But I do think that this, or something very like this, is going to happen - it just is a question of the people, the technology, and the timing - and of course, the money.

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This blog was created by Thomas Power, Chairman of Ecademy.com with aid from his Digital Biographer. Contact Thomas on +447976438285.

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