LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, plans to go public in 2011, Reuters reports.
The move appears designed to get a jump on what is expected to be a flurry of public offerings by tech companies over the next two years as the economy improves. Shopping website Groupon and social-gaming company Zynga — both growing like wildfire — are each preparing to go public, though Groupon will likely wait until 2012.
And of course, there’s the Big Kahuna, Facebook, which is expected to go public in 2012 — a move that may have been delayed by Goldman Sachs’ recent $450 million investment and concomitant plan to raise $1.5 billion from its wealthy clients to invest in the social network.
“Some of these companies want to go public because they want to beat Facebook and others out,” said one of Reuters’ sources. “If Facebook went public before LinkedIn, do you think anyone would pay that much attention to LinkedIn? You might want to surpass the beast.”
LinkedIn, which has 85 million members, had an estimated $200 million in revenues in 2010. On private online market SharesPost, LinkedIn has an implied valuation of $2.2 billion. That translates to an eminently reasonable price-to-sales ratio of 11.
The professionally oriented social network has carved out a nice niche for itself. In addition to selling ads, the website makes money by selling premium accounts and recruiting services to businesses.
LinkedIn’s comment is: “An IPO is just one of many tactics that we could consider.” But company CEO Jeff Weiner telegraphed the move last August in a Bloomberg TV interview cited by The Wall Street Journal.
“An IPO, being public, raising money, that’s really a tactic that helps us ultimately achieve that long-term objective,” Weiner said in the interview.
Wall Street titans Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase will serve as LinkedIn’s IPO advisors, according to DealBook. LinkedIn has raised over $100 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners and Bessemer Venture Capital Ventures, the website said.