LinkedIn Hits 4 Million UK Users

This news follows closely on from the recent announcement that LinkedIn reached 70 million users worldwide and confirms that LinkedIn is continuing to gain popularity throughout the world.

Whilst headline user numbers make interesting reading, I am always more interested in the rate of growth and the number of 'active' users - anybody who has spent anytime searching LinkedIn will know that there are many duplicated and obviously dormant profiles on LinkedIn.

Growth rate

In terms of growth the figures are still very impressive - 3 million new users every month (more than 1 a second!) and over 100,000 in the UK.

It took LinkedIn 477 days to reach its first million users......its last million took just 12 days!

This has led to a growth of LinkedIn employees, they expect to have over 850 staff by the end of this year - at the end of 2008 they had just 228! They have recently opened offices in Amsterdam, Australia, India, Canada and their new global headquarters in Dublin (although the powerbase is still in California).

Active Users

The latest figures from Comscore show that they currently have 42 million unique visitors per month (60% of users) - this has increased 3 fold over the last 2 years.

There were over 1 billion people searches performed last year

100,000 users join groups every day.

There are over 1 million company profiles.

There are over 100 million API calls every day.

So when is it all going to end? Well, LinkedIn have calculated that there is a target audience (professionals) of 500 million in the world so they still have plenty to go at!

In the UK it is estimated that the figure is closer to 12 million so todays announcement means that they have reached a 3rd of their target population!

I believe the biggest threat to LinkedIn does not come from other business networks - Viadeo is still growing (30 million users worldwide) but it just doesn't have the same international reach and LinkedIn is experiencing impressive growth in Viadeo's homeland of France (over 1 million users). Xing is even less of a threat where coverage is mainly limited to the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). In my opinion it wont be long before users in all of these countries get fed up with using more than 1 network (who has the time?!) and convert over to LinkedIn exclusively.

I believe the biggest threat to LinkedIn comes from Facebook who are still struggling to monetize their impressive user base (over 22 million in the UK!) and are getting more interested in the business/professional market. Friends in the US tell me that Facebook is increasingly being seen as a business/social network over there.

I am not convinced, maybe its a UK/European cultural thing but I struggle to see how professionals will adjust to their social life (facebook) and their professional life (LinkedIn) merging together - it just doesnt feel right to me but its certainly one to watch.

What do you think? Could Facebook start to take over LinkedIn's mantle as the natural home to online business networking?