Our initial vision for LinkedIn
We had all started other companies before LinkedIn so we knew how important professional networks were to successful startup founders. We wanted to bring the same network power to anyone.
The first product market fit was with recruiters
It takes a lot of creativity to use your professional network really well. Most people weren’t good at it and weren't sure how to use LinkedIn. With recruiters, it stuck. They got it immediately.
We didn't realize how important the 1st degree was
Most of LinkedIn was about the 2nd degree. I'm using my network, I care about who they know. "Do you know somebody who can help me with that?" But actually, the 1st degree matters a huge amount.
Growth was slow when we first started
We had 1700 users after the first week. Way less than we thought we would. Growth slowed after that and took a lot of upwards pressure. We had to focus everything on getting growth right.
Best viral products had really easily understood value props
We used our learning about viral loops from our experience at PayPal. Growth came from our central invitation process, Google (from SEO), and more. We concentrated on user value.
Advice for Founders:
Make sure you're only trying to solve 1 problem. Pick the one thing you care about and focus on it. It can be validating your hypothesis, growth etc. For us, the one problem was growth.
I didn't see it coming.
I never thought LinkedIn would be this big. 10k+ employees, that's huge. I used to know every employee & what they were working on.
As LinkedIn grew, new opportunities kept arising.
When we got to 10M users, we were bigger than the reach of business publications. Things became interesting. Today, our data can give us visibility on the economy and more.
Advice for my 18-year-old self: "Care a lot"
Whatever you are, care a lot. Concentrate on other people. You'll be happier and better off. These are lessons I learned from building LinkedIn.