New products come and go. The very best thrive for decades. Every once in a blue moon comes an idea so perfectly timed and executed that it could literally last forever. LinkedIn is one of those products—a cocktail napkin of an idea that changed the world of business overnight.
It is, therefore, with regret that I see the signs that this product/company that could have been “for the ages” is leaving an array of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities unfulfilled.
First of all, they are overpricing their subscription service and under-featuring it. This is mercifully a simple thing to fix if they want to. Let’s call this a $25 million blown opportunity (500K subs at $50/year). It’s a relative drop in the bucket compared to the opportunities LinkedIn is blowing in the “directory” space, however.
I know a fair amount about this market segment from launching hoovers.com, corptech.com, and industry-specific directories, and estimate that there is a $6 billion+ opportunity they’re squandering here.
- A D&B/Equifax/Experian Killer. Comprehensive company data with virtually all current and former personnel, revenues and headcount (albeit self-reported), and products. Let’s call this a $5 billion mistake.
- Competitive Intelligence on Steroids. A view into the complex network of corporate “kieretsus”–company relationships with key suppliers, partners, and customers. There is nothing like this on the market so it’s hard to value, but clearly it’s a game-changer.
- Industry-Specific Directories. This is a $500 million market segment that could be “turned on” overnight and would rock the B2B publishing work to its foundation.
- List Sales. By confining list sales to a handful of seven-figure deals, LinkedIn sidesteps the opportunity to replace a large chunk of the direct marketing business. Let’s call that another $500 million left on the table.
The point of this rant/analysis is that everybody in the path of the potential tsunami of a LinkedIn that wakes up to these opportunities needs to be aggressively building barriers to entry to protect themselves. My advice? Code like the wind, embed yourselves deep in your customers’ workflows, make sure your customers are getting every ounce of value out of your services, and avoid extinction!