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LinkedIn on Facebook: 'We Were Here First'

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 | 5:53 PM ET
LinkedIn
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LinkedIn

While Facebook stock suffered Wednesday, LinkedIn got another upgrade and a $125 price target from Citi analyst Mark Mahaney. Facebook's stock is down 26 percent since its IPO, while LinkedIn is up 57 percent year-to-date.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and founder Reid Hoffman didn't talk specifically about Facebook, but comparisons between the business networking service and the social network were an underlying current throughout their on-stage interview with Kara Swisher at the All Things D conference. Weiner says that LinkedIn's "not about passing time but enabling people to save time."

LinkedIn currently has 161 million users, but Weiner says the dream is big — to "create economic opportunity" for all 3.3 billion people in the global workforce.

Weiner and Hoffman talked about how they're not just for job seekers. They want LinkedIn to be the business tool for professionals. Weiner rattled off a number of ways people use the service beyond seeking and hiring. It's "the way entrepreneurs seek financing," and "the way salespeople convert cold calls to warm prospects."

Swisher asked if they think of LinkedIn as Facebook for professionals. "We started before Facebook," said Hoffman. "So, no." But Hoffman acknowledged that "inspiration flows in both directions," and Facebook and LinkedIn get ideas from one another.

In sharp contrast to Facebook's trades, LinkedIn stock soared after its IPO. Weiner joked that while people remember the weather on their wedding day it doesn't necessarily have a lot of bearing on the strength of their marriage.

And like a lot of the CEOs here, Weiner insisted he's focused not on the stock price but on the business. Weiner did reveal one lesson he took from a conversation with Steve Jobs: the importance of focusing on doing a few things better. And one of those few things Weiner and Hoffman want to do now is grow. With multiple revenue streams — premium memberships, ads, corporate memberships — user growth should lift all three.

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.