Early this year, professional networking site LinkedIn crossed the 200 million members mark, with 37 per cent (or 74 million) of the total member count coming from the US, followed by India with 18 million members. As of now, approximately two members are joining the site every second, which adds up to 260 million members worldwide before the end of this year.
In the midst all of this, Techcircle.in met up with Nishant K Rao, the new country manager for LinkedIn India. His appointment follows the promotion of the former country manager, Hari V Krishnan, who is now serving a bigger role as the managing director for Asia-Pacific and Japan. During the conversation, he talked about his new role, the company's performance in India and the path ahead. Here are a few excerpts.
How has LinkedIn been performing in India?
India is already the second largest market for LinkedIn. We are in hyper growth and have been growing at 400 per cent on a yearly basis since 2009 in terms of the user base. The monthly active users are also increasing. So growth is not a problem for us as of now, it's more about making sure that the member experience is good. In terms of team size, we have grown from 59 in December 2011 to 200 as of now.
So you have big shoes to fill?
Yes, there are big shoes to fill, but Hari is part of APAC, and since India is part of that he continues to provide guidance to us. The interesting aspect is that in 2009 we were in startup mode in India, whereas now we are in the growth mode. We already have 18 million plus members in India, and the goal is to reach the 80 million potential members mark. Going forward you will see a lot of focus on India-specific consumer marketing efforts.
Also, students are among the highest engaged members on LinkedIn and they also comprise a big population in India. We want to make sure to get them all on LinkedIn.
How has mobile been growing for you? Can we see the mobile traffic overtaking the web traffic for LinkedIn in India?
Mobile traffic constitutes 27 per cent of our entire traffic on a global basis and it is growing exponentially. And while we don't share individual numbers for countries, the trends in India are very favourable towards mobile. But we don't actually see mobile displacing the web. This is because the pattern which we have noticed is that users start their day by accessing the site from a tablet or a mobile phone, then transition to the web while they are at their desks, and then come back to the mobile phones/tablets in the evening. So instead of opting for one medium or the other, users are actually leveraging both the mediums.
Can we see a jobs section on LinkedIn going forward?
We feel that the concept of someone looking for a job on a particular job board is outdated. We want relevant jobs that come to the user. Members come on LinkedIn to manage their identity and get insights. During that process, we send members relevant jobs based on who they are. As to whether we will ever have a job board on LinkedIn, I don't think so, but members will continue to see value in LinkedIn.
Today, LinkedIn has 2.7 million company pages. Almost 90 per cent of key hires (and 25 per cent of the total hires) of corporates like HCL Technologies happen through LinkedIn. ING Vysya had four times the return on investment (ROI) post using our direct sourcing solution.
But are you nervous of someone like Facebook starting a jobs section, considering they already have five times the number of members that LinkedIn has?
The core business for sites like Facebook (or Twitter) is more on the social networking side. There are other players that are experimenting on top of the platform to make something work in the jobs space, but what they are quickly realising is that people want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. Hence they are not getting the desired traction or growth.
Is the SlideShare transition complete?
Yes the transition is complete and they are now fully part of LinkedIn. However, we are maintaining their independence to allow them to innovate on their product side. Also, with SlideShare and the 'LinkedIn influencers', we are seeing LinkedIn fast becoming a professional publishing platform.
LinkedIn India's director of marketing solutions, Dhiman Mukherji quit last month, have you found a replacement?
We are still looking to fill the position and will announce the same as soon as it's done.