LinkedIn buys company, has talked to bankers-CEO

Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:02pm EDT

* LinkedIn acquires San Francisco-based ChoiceVendor

* CEO says discussions with bankers not specific to IPO

By Alexei Oreskovic and Clare Baldwin

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK, Sept 23 (Reuters) - LinkedIn acquired ChoiceVendor, a small provider of online business ratings and reviews, on Thursday, and has had talks with bankers about various other "opportunities," the CEO of the fast-growing professional Internet social network said.

Asked if the acquisition -- its second in 2 months -- was for under $5 million, Chief Executive Jeff Weiner said the figure was "in the right range."

LinkedIn, whose membership rolls surpassed 80 million users on Thursday, has had conversations with bankers about various matters, though not specifically about an initial public offering, he told Reuters in an interview.

"Given our growth this year, there's a lot of opportunities for us and so there's a number of companies and bankers and other folks interested in talking to us about where we're going, where we're heading strategically, whether or not they can help us in any respect," Weiner said.

"We've had discussions previously; we'll continue to have those discussions," he said, adding that he wouldn't "characterize it as being specific about discussing IPOs." He noted that such conversations have occurred since he joined the company as interim president in early 2009.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that LinkedIn met with several major banks earlier this year to explore the idea of an IPO.

LinkedIn ranks among the Web's fast-growing social networking services, alongside Facebook and Twitter. Unlike Facebook, which lets consumers interact with their friends online by sharing photos and playing games, LinkedIn, which had 65 million members in May, is focused on connecting business professionals.

The privately held company, which does not disclose financial results, makes money from advertising and premium services.

Weiner said the ChoiceVendor deal represented a "talent acquisition" by LinkedIn, noting that the 8-person team, including the two founders that are former Google Inc (GOOG.O) engineers, will help accelerate numerous projects at the company. ChoiceVendor is based in San Francisco.

The 7-year-old company made its first acquisition in August, of mSpoke.

LinkedIn does not have any stated objectives regarding the number of deals it does, Weiner said, but is "very open" to acquisition opportunities.

In February, LinkedIn hired Robby Kwok as head of corporate development to oversee the company's acquisition strategy. (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic and Clare Baldwin; Editing by Richard Chang)