With 200 million members LinkedIn is now valued at more than $18 billion

With 200 million members LinkedIn is now valued at more than $18 billionAs we reported in January LinkedIn revealed it had hit a significant milestone as it passed the 200 million-member mark.

Of those 200 million more than 11 million members are in the UK, a similar number are in Brazil, and 74 million are in the US. It is far smaller than Facebook and Twitter, but quietly the professional social network is attracting very positive numbers. Not only are its membership numbers shooting up, but so is its value.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal  LinkedIn is now valued at more than $18bn. 

That is an incredible figure for a company that had its initial public offering in 2011 when it was valued at $4bn.

Compare that to Facebook which has come nowhere near its IPO price since it floated almost a year ago. The same is true of Zynga and Groupon, which have both had bumpy stock market rides.

Twitter has, of course yet to seek an IPO, but it is valued at around $9nbn to $10bn and is expected to go to the markets in 2014.

But does the new valuation have something of a whiff of bubble to it? The price being placed on LinkedIn values it at “18 times 2012 sales, far above other publicly traded internet companies”.

LinkedIn, however, has honed and grown its business and it continues to suck up more of the recruitment ad market. It is hoping that market continues grow at the expense of traditional publishers as it also begins to test other ad models.

“Now LinkedIn is trying to give corporate customers—which generate more than half its $972 million in annual revenue through its “talent solutions” business—more reason to pay. It is testing corporate ads that serve content such as articles or status updates to LinkedIn’s users. LinkedIn also is pushing into content by aggregating business news and hosting expert blog posts, to give professionals more reasons to linger on the site.

“The more active its members, the more ads LinkedIn can sell and the more data it garners for its corporate customers’ hiring and recruiting needs. In its most recent quarter, LinkedIn said page views rose 67% from a year earlier, the company’s highest growth rate in 2012. Data from comScore shows that LinkedIn has bounced between 40 million and 43 million U.S. unique visitors since August. LinkedIn released several content-related products last year, such as an updated home page and news feed and a new publishing platform for “influencers” like Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, all geared toward keeping users on its site.  

“LinkedIn said it has rolled out more significant changes to its site in the last two quarters than the six previous quarters combined. The pressure is on for LinkedIn to keep growing, especially as its stock values the company at 18 times 2012 sales, far above other publicly traded Internet companies. Google Inc. GOOG +0.62% trades at more than five times sales, while Facebook trades at more than 12 times sales,” the WSJ reports.