SAN FRANCISCO LinkedIn, the networking site aimed at professionals, is appointing the chief marketing officer of Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), Leslie Kilgore, as its second independent board director, Chief Executive Jeff Weiner said on Monday.
The site, which has more than 65 million members, is among the Web's fastest-growing social networking sites along with Facebook and Twitter, fueling speculation that it is positioning itself for an initial public offering.
An IPO "is not in the front of mind," Weiner told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in San Francisco on Monday.
With the roughly $76 million in venture funding that LinkedIn raised in 2008 still in the bank, the company has capital on hand to shop for acquisitions. Weiner said LinkedIn was primarily looking for deals that could provide important technology or deals that provide "talent" to fill out the company's ranks.
"Anything that's going to enable us to extract the right data and make that data usable is going to be of interest to us," Weiner said, referring to the types of technology in which LinkedIn has interest.
He noted that any deals at this stage would be "smaller acquisitions," which he defined as companies whose employees number in the "tens of people."
LinkedIn will have 900 employees by the end of the year, up from about 500 at the start of the year, said Weiner, who took the helm of the Mountain View, California-based firm in June 2009.
The company is increasingly looking to international markets for growth, opening offices in Mumbai, Sydney and Amsterdam in recent months.
Rival Internet social networks for professionals like France's Viadeo and Germany's Xing are also strong in overseas markets, but Weiner said that LinkedIn was pleased with its growth overseas despite the competition.
The fact that LinkedIn is the largest Internet network for professionals gives it an advantage in international markets, said Weiner.
He said that LinkedIn was growing its number of users fast enough that acquiring another social network was not necessary.
"The larger the network, in theory the more valuable the network. But we're in a very strong organic trajectory right now," Weiner said.
The service is currently adding one new member a second, and Weiner noted that the company believes there are 500 million professionals in the world that could be LinkedIn members.
Kilgore is the second independent director on the six-strong board after LinkedIn appointed Skip Battle, former Ask.com chief executive and also a Netflix director, to its board last month.
Weiner cited Netflix's subscription-based business as being particularly relevant to LinkedIn, which counts premium subscriptions as one of its three main sources of revenue, in addition to advertising and enterprise licensing.
While Kilgore and Battle both have experience at public companies, Weiner said the more relevant quality of the new board members was their experience at companies that have significantly grown their businesses.
"The ability to go public is one potential manifestation if you're successful in scaling your business. So that's certainly an option that would be available to us," said Weiner.
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