LinkedIn-News Corp Rumor Spurs Frenzy of Pointless Speculation

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819849_gossip Last week TechCrunch reported a rumor that LinkedIn was in buyout talks with media conglomerate News Corp, owners of, among other things, MySpace. The next day, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman responded with a "no comment", but as TechCrunch writer Mike Butcher pointed out:

But I’ll leave you with this thought: companies entertaining a sale, or already in talks with another party, typically send their chairmen on massive press tours to talk up the proposition.

It’s clear that even if LinkedIn is in talks with News Corp, it’s in the very early stages.

But what really baffles me is the ensuing feeding frenzy in the tech media, the blogosphere, and on LinkedIn Answers. OK, sure, I understand people reporting on it, but what I don’t understand is some of the absolutely ridiculous questions and speculation that has accompanied it.

For example, one question on LinkedIn Answers (since pulled, so I can’t link to it) asked if people would leave LinkedIn if News Corp bought it. What??? What on earth does the corporate ownership of the site have to do with its day-to-day usefulness for its users?

Others have asked if LinkedIn and MySpace would merge. The suggestion is ludicrous. That’s like suggesting that CNN merge with HBO when Time Warner acquired them. They are two totally different channels serving totally different demographics.

When News Corp bought MySpace, they actually changed very little. They did finally enforce the user agreement about inappropriate content, and you’ll see a disproportionate volume of ads for Fox TV programming and other News Corp properties, but really, that’s about it.

If News Corp is interested in LinkedIn, it’s because LinkedIn is working. They don’t want to come in and change it. They want to do two things:

  1. Replace ad revenue they’re losing in traditional media channels.
  2. Acquire the demographic for inexpensive cross-promotion of their other properties.

That’s it. Period. You’ll see very little change in your user experience. So unless you’re one of the handful of actual investors in LinkedIn, don’t worry about it. It’s really not that interesting.

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