LinkedIn opens S'pore office, eyes Asia growth

New Singapore office will be regional hub for expansion into Asia as company aims for further growth and revenue with another office in Japan planned, says exec.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--Professional online networking company, LinkedIn, will open an office here this June which will serve as the company's headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, and help drive further expansion and revenue growth.

The local office, which will be located in the central business district, will focus on both the local and regional markets, said Arvind Rajan, LinkedIn's managing director and vice president for Asia-Pacific and Japan.

Rajan, who will relocate from LinkedIn's U.S. headquarters in Mountain View, California, said he is currently interviewing candidates for regional leadership roles before building the rest of the team including finance, human resources and marketing directors.

He told ZDNet Asia in an interview that there are currently a dozen positions available but he expects the number to grow as the company builds its presence in Asia.

Singapore will mark the third office to be established in the Asia-Pacific region, after India and Australia, and another in Japan will be ready later this year, he added. LinkedIn also has offices in London, Ireland, the Netherlands, France and Canada.

Rajan said Singapore was chosen as a local office and a regional hub to drive expansion in Asia because it is located closer to many of the company's major markets in the region. He added that many of LinkedIn's global customers including multinational corporations have regional headquarters here.

The country is also a talent hub for Asia and its economy is built around talent, which is a "natural synergy" with what LinkedIn does--that is, to connect talent with opportunities, he said.

There is also a "real revenue opportunity" in Singapore where LinkedIn has over 540,000 members, about half the professional workforce of 1.2 million here. "So as a market by itself, it's also valuable," he said.

Increasing Asian expansion
According to Rajan, it was "completely coincidental" that the announcement for LinkedIn's Singapore office comes barely two weeks after the company launched its initial public offering of US$352.8 million. He revealed that the decision to open an office in Singapore was made in end-2010.

He noted that the company is "very, very bullish on Asia" and there are "huge opportunities" for LinkedIn in this region. Out of the 100 million LinkedIn members worldwide, about 18 percent are currently located in Asia, he said, adding that the Singapore office will help drive further expansion in Asia.

As the company builds it presence, Rajan said the region will have an increasing share of its global revenue base but noted that it is "still early days yet", with the Indian and Australian offices only 18 months old.

LinkedIn's growth rate in Asia has been "extraordinary", growing about 130 percent over the last year between March 2010 and March 2011, he pointed out.

Asked why LinkedIn's expansion plans were concentrated in Europe prior to Asia, he replied that the networking service has a "really strong base" in the United Kingdom which was among its most penetrated markets worldwide.

The U.K. also has a large online advertising market and economic base, hence, there is a big opportunity for the hiring space as well, he explained.

According to Rajan, the size of the local economy, the key markets LinkedIn competes in such as online advertising and talent search, as well as user penetration are among the factors the company looks at when prioritizing its global expansion and determining the countries in which to establish presence.

"Singapore is of course smaller than the markets in India and Australia…but it increasingly moved up higher on our list because our user penetration in Singapore was so high and it's an incredibly vibrant economy.

"It's not just the Singapore market by itself, but Singapore has access to customers that have a regional responsibility. So I'm not only selling to a particular company for their needs in Singapore, but their needs across the region, which makes it so exciting," he said.

He added that LinkedIn provides tools online aimed at helping companies address hiring challenges. For instance, he explained that LinkedIn Recruiter is a platform which sits on top of LinkedIn to allow HR managers to conduct detailed, precise searching of users, whether by skill, industry or education, to identify the "exact right person" for the job.

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