March 21, 2008

LinkedIn Company Detail Shows Silicon Valley Carousel

How Select Tech Titans Stack Up
(Click for larger image)

Last night, LinkedIn rolled out a major upgrade to the professionally-oriented social network and career/recruiting database, adding new company profiles, giving corporations the same kind of dedicated page to their background as their individual employees have had for roughly five years. (Here's mine.) While corporate profiles have been around forever, LinkedIn adds "special sauce" through its large user database, determining where employees come from and leave to, what other companies they are connected to, and who may recently have changed positions or joined the company. Good stuff.

The new company profiles on LinkedIn are a gold mine for reporters who want to get data beyond what the PR guys may want to dish out. (See: LinkedIn Is a Paradise for Smart Reporters)

Want the average age of an employee? A good estimate is on LinkedIn. Want to know if there is a high level of turnover, and people don't stay long? LinkedIn has that too. It also can provide hints as to whether a company is so strong that folks aren't leaving at all, or if they are leaving in exodus. And if you peer closely enough, you can see the Silicon Valley carousel, as employees move from company to company in search for the next big thing.

You can see employees move from PayPal to Google, Yahoo! or LinkedIn. You can see Friendster employees went to Yahoo! and Zazzle, or from Napster to Apple, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google. And if you think Google is getting all the good employees out there, there's no question they get their share, but so far, it looks like Facebook is getting a lot of new hires, and nobody's leaving - a boomtime for the social networking giant.

Interestingly, due to Apple's tenure, and the company's rising from the ashes with the return of Steve Jobs, you can see employees that once left the company have returned, having never lost the Mac religion. You can also see longer median tenures at the more established companies, like Microsoft and Intel, who also feature an older employee base.

Gender-wise, men dominate LinkedIn data for the tech industry, with between 60% and 70% of all employees at the companies I selected. Could that be the case, or is there an overweighting of men who use LinkedIn, compared to the true employee base? Maybe it's both?

LinkedIn opening up this data will keep company marketeers and PR on the alert to see how their data is being portrayed, just as they should be watching their coverage on Wikipedia, for in this case, it's their employees' collective data that is pushing the details, without a filter, and just maybe, the truth will reveal more than they had ever imagined. I know I'll be spending a lot more time poking around LinkedIn now myself.