LinkedIn raises funding to expand

Business-oriented social-networking site refuses to comment on flotation rumours, as venture capitalists invest millions of pounds

Business networking site LinkedIn has secured $12.8m (£6.5m) in venture capital funding, leading to speculation that it may go public.

The site, which has been touted as a MySpace for business professionals, announced on Monday that it had received the funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, which is also an investor in Skype, and the European Founders Fund, which holds investments in eBay and Jamba.

"The funding is for a couple of things: to give us some flexibility in terms of product innovation, but also to find more of a focus on international extension," a spokesperson for LinkedIn told ZDNet UK on Tuesday, adding that the site is already profitable.

The site has around nine million members in total, half of which are outside the US. Three million are already signed up in Europe. Despite this success, said the spokesperson, LinkedIn has spread virally rather than through any concerted marketing push.

However, the spokesperson did suggest that LinkedIn did have some plans for international expansion, but was "not making any grand proclamations" just yet.

Some have speculated that LinkedIn may float on a stock exchange at some point, suggesting that such an event could signal a new dot-com boom. However, the site's spokesperson was quick to play down the idea, pointing out that "it seems like a hot market but anything could happen. A lot of companies are failing too".

LinkedIn recently launched its Answers service, which lets users ask trusted contacts business-related questions. It also offers various premium functions such as job listings and corporate subscription packages — clients include Microsoft, Adobe and Walmart — although the basic service is free.

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