Business 2.0 has an article lauding LinkedIn as "MySpace for grown-ups". The central thesis seems to be that because LinkedIn now has 8 million users and a bunch of money from Sequoia and Greylock it has reached a "tipping point". By applying some woolly and largely debunked "law of networks" thinking and an unconfirmed rumour of a Yahoo! takeover, LinkedIn is made to look like The Next Big Thing.
So here's the problem with LinkedIn - it doesn't do anything. You sign up, you find some colleagues, you link to them and then...nothing. From the article;
"LinkedIn is a three-year-old service that takes your personal business network online. People don't use it to discover new bands or track down a date - there's nothing social about this network."
People indeed don't use it to discover bands or track down a date. People don't use it for anything of much at all. But there is a business model:
"People - mainly the site's 60,000 recruiters - pay an average of $3,600 a year for premium features such as sending messages to LinkedIn members outside their own networks. Corporate members pony up six-figure fees for access to the network."
Or, in other words, the business relies on selling access to its users to people who want to pitch a commercial message, the same model that is killing email, fomenting a user revolt in Second Life and prevents MySpace from capturing all that much of the value its network creates. The business is, as Umair puts it, "buying marginal profitability at the expense of scale".LinkedIn is indeed MySpace without the social - or, in other words, nothing much of anything at all.
Update: Umair talks in detail about the pros and cons of LinkedIn, Mathew Ingram comes out and says that the LinkedIn commercial model is really spam, and in comments Ilana wisely recommends SoFlow as a more likely candidate for a grown-up MySpace. Ian Delaney also mentions eCademy, another good choice. And later today I'll be posting on the ways in which LinkedIn is MySpace for grown-ups - watch this space.