Interview with LinkedIn's Clifford Rosenberg
"Indonesia has massive potential to be a leader in the digital space in Asia."
VIVAnews – LinkedIn is the world’s second biggest social networking after Facebook and the largest professional network with over 100 million professional members worldwide.
Now LinkedIn has over 18 million members in Asia Pacific and recently announced Singapore as the base for its regional headquarters. Following its IPO, LinkedIn has set its sights on expansion within APAC, leveraging the success of existing offices in Australia and India.
Last Thursday, LinkedIn Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Clifford Rosenberg spoke at Indonesia's IDBYTE event in Jakarta. Following his presentation, Rosenberg gave an exclusive interview with VIVAnews.com discussing both LinkedIn’s strategy for regional expansion and Indonesia’s digital industry.
LinkedIn just opened its Singapore branch. What functions will the office serve and what will be the headcount?
We announced our Asia Pacific and Japan headquarters in Singapore on May 31st 2011. The new office in Singapore will serve as the regional headquarters to over 18 million LinkedIn members in Asia Pacific (and Japan), supporting both existing markets in Australia and India and providing a launch pad for further regional expansion.
There will initially be approximately a dozen staff initially for the Singapore office across Sales, Finance, Marketing and Human Resources. Arvind Rajan has relocated from LinkedIn HQ in Mountain View California to set-up the regional office in Singapore. He will now serve as Managing Director & VP of APAC & Japan.
Is it true that LinkedIn also wants to enter into the market in China?
Entry into China is not something that we take lightly - we’re focused on getting it right and continuing to explore ways to be in China over the long-term.
What is the growth rate of the 18 million LinkedIn members in Asia Pacific?
About 1 million professionals join LinkedIn every week, a growth rate of more than 1 member joining per second. In APAC specifically, Comscore reports that LinkedIn visitors increased by 132 percent from March 2010 to March 2011.
What about users in Indonesia? Do you have the statistics of Indonesian users?
We have over 18 million members in Asia Pacific, including over 2 million in South East Asia. But we haven't broken it down by the country. So at this point of time, we're not talking about Indonesian specific number.
In your opinion, what do you think is the future for Indonesia’s online industry?
Indonesia has massive potential to be a leader in the digital space in Asia. Mobile penetration is high and there’s a lot of enthusiasm in the industry, which is exciting to see.
If you look at the percentage of online advertising spend in Indonesia, it only represents about 1 percent of total advertising spent, so there’s enormous scope for growth. Indonesia spends roughly US$40 million per year on online advertising yet the total advertising, across TV, print, and other mediums is about US$ 5 billion.
So when you look at the amount of time people are spending across the range of media, there's a disproportionate amount spent on TV/print versus online. So I think it's a market that’s ripe for growth. You only need to look around at this conference and you can sense plenty of enthusiasm and excitement about the future of digital in Indonesia.
Yahoo has entered the Indonesian market. How many years will it take for LinkedIn to do the same?
As mentioned, we’ve just established a presence in Singapore, adding to existing offices in Australia and India, and we’ll use Singapore as a hub to explore expansion into new markets across Asia.
Are you going to use content from local news publisher for LinkedIn Today?
I mentioned a new product in my presentation called “LinkedIn Today” where we take content from various news sources and offer customized news feeds according to the industry that’s most relevant to members.We would like to have as many publishers around the globe involved in providing good content for our members, so yes, it’s entirely possible this could be the case in Indonesia.
How are these new features, like LinkedIn Today and LinkedIn Groups leveraging user engagement on LinkedIn?
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for professionals to sift through the volume of content they receive on a daily basis, and that’s why we introduced ‘Signal’ and ‘Today’ – two products that allow busy professionals to get real-time insights from the large stream of information shared by their network of connections.
LinkedIn Groups are a way for professionals to engage and conduct interactive discussions with their industry peers – we have more than 900,000 Groups on LinkedIn.
It’s all about enabling people to manage their professional brand online, raise their profile and build their career. Every day, professionals are gaining new job or business opportunities, insights and information by networking and engaging on LinkedIn.
What percentage of traffic and engagement do they provide?
I think the best way when you think about engagement is the statistic that I showed in my presentation about LinkedIn being one of the top 50 websites in the world. When you look at the amount of traffic going to LinkedIn, we’re now the second largest social media website in the world. And when you look at the traffic on LinkedIn, which is increasing, I think it's testimonial to increasing engagement levels on LinkedIn.
In addition to advertising, a large proportion of LinkedIn’s revenue comes from recruitment services and premium subscriptions. Are they relevant for Asian countries?
Yes absolutely. We have three key lines of revenue; marketing solutions (advertising), recruitment solutions (for recruiters and hiring managers), and subscriptions. All three are relevant in every market, and with a skills shortage across Asia, we’re seeing particular demand for our recruitment solutions products.
What content innovation will show up on LinkedIn in the near future?
We’re constantly launching new products that are designed to make our members more productive and successful. I gave an example earlier today of our mobile applications on BlackBerry, Android and on the iPhone.
Those applications are very important to us. We see a lot of our members increasingly using these mobile applications, particularly for daily content via LinkedIn Today. We're focused on listening to our members and building products that allow them to be better at what they do, wherever they are.
How do you differentiate your site with other employment sites like Monster.com or CareerBuilder?
A major challenge for recruiters is finding high quality candidates quickly and connecting with passive candidates. LinkedIn is aligned to connecting talent with opportunity at a massive scale.
LinkedIn provides a platform to create dialogue and drive conversations, whilst job boards are restricted to display only. Recruiters are also discovering that the best candidates are often ‘passive’ and may not necessarily be applying for jobs.
Apart from also offering a job network where recruiters can post their job openings, LinkedIn offers employers the opportunity to position their company brand among professionals and build a talent pipeline.
“LinkedIn Recruiter” has search and communication tools to identify and reach highly skilled candidates and also built-in collaboration tools that enable recruiters to share project information and organise workflow.
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