An in depth conversation between Re/Code Kara Swisher and LinkedIn CEO by Jeff Weiner that covers the early days of his career, his conversations with his father, and how each successive job eventually led to the CEO post at the social network.
Weiner spotted the rise of convergence of digital, media, and education, etc. early on – circa 1994 – and thought “it was going to completely change the way many industries would manifest themselves.” He says:
In the cover letter, I mentioned that I was of the belief that it was going to be content that was increasingly going to create value and not necessarily the technology itself. The content would be the differentiator.
That there were people who were overseeing media conglomerates at the time — Michael Eisner, Steve Ross would have been a model, Ted Turner, folks like Terry Semel. And I wrote to my dad — I realize how unlikely and opportunity that would be — but if I had an opportunity to work with someone like that I would have the opportunity to combine both a strong business acumen, and a sense of how to create content that people want to consume.
His advice on how to become successful — “it needs to start with what ultimately you want to accomplish.” About LinkedIn, Weiner says he saw the opportunity to democratize access to information as well as access to economic opportunity.
It’s worth watching to understand not just how LinkedIn thinks about content, social, and media for the platform to help people connect for professional opportunities, but also how the network is thinking about content distribution and relevancy.
Key points about the helping people connect to opportunity:
(1.) connect to other professionals — a tool to create a network and keep in touch with people professionally, following the right companies, providing access to job opportunities, access to investment for entrepreneurs, access for sales opportunities, ability to research sources for journalists, etc.
(2.) stay informed through professional news and knowledge (information with greater context) — by virtue of seeing who people are connected to, you can see what they are sharing in professional context that would create value for others; then the influencers’ platform was born. It started with 500 people who had experience and wisdom to share and were interested in sharing what they learned. The publishing platform was then opened up to more than 200 million people. (Pulse acquisition)
(3.) acquire new skills – helping people bridge their potential gaps based on historical data on skills and opportunities people aspire to. In addition to Lynda.com and SlideShare (acquisitions), they will work with third parties, too. The idea here is to create one’s own compendium of knowledge (see, for example, Clipping feature on SlideShare) and associate identity with it.
When challenged about how LinkedIn is trying to keep people on the platform, Weiner says “there’s a big difference between satisfying a business objective and trying to understand who you are creating value for.”
Talking about media, Weiner comments on fragmentation taking attention away from publishers’ sites and how people consume articles ad hoc. About relevancy, he mentions three approaches and how they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Key means of distribution and relevancy:
- machine learning – e.g., like Google
- social cues OS – we are hard-wired to see what others say and read
- media curation OS – includes taste and experience; maybe Artificial Intelligence (AI) will move into this area in the future, but for now people are still delivering greater value
The last ten minutes include comments / predictions on other social networks and tools as well as LinkedIn’s footprint in China and , the company’s presence in San Francisco.
When asked what he would do if he weren’t at LinkedIn, Weiner said he would start something like Code.org for helping teach people compassion.
Watch the full interview below.
This started as a short LinkedIn update.
[Hat tip Fred Wilson]