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LinkedIn’s India user base expands to 42 million

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-04-2017 Deepti Govind

Bengaluru: LinkedIn’s user base in India has grown to 42 million, even as the firm hit the 500 million user mark globally, Akshay Kothari, the firm’s India head said in an interview. India remains the professional networking company’s largest market after the US and is also among its fastest growing countries, he added.

LinkedIn’s user base will continue to expand at the current 40% rate at the very least in the country, Kothari said.

“In the last 15 months since I’ve been here we’ve added over 10 million members and I’m hoping in the next year or two we can add more than that.”

The firm had around 33 million users in India last January. It took the company, which was bought by Microsoft Corp. for $26.2 billion last year, around seven years to get its first 10 million members in the country. Kothari attributes the recent acceleration, in part, to the firm’s strategy of investing locally by creating products that specifically cater to India.

Last September, for instance, LinkedIn rolled out three new initiatives for India. It expanded LinkedIn Placements to students in colleges and universities across the country; launched a stripped-down mobile version (LinkedIn Lite) of its website to make it easy to access in areas with poor connectivity; and introduced the LinkedIn Starter Pack, which offers premium hiring, marketing and learning solutions targeted at small and mid-sized businesses.

“Lite and Placements are examples of new products that we’ve built but we’ve also done improvements on the core platform that has allowed people to feel like LinkedIn is more useful for them,” said Kothari. LinkedIn Lite is now available to all 42 million users of the firm in India and has been a huge game changer, he said, adding that the website is now five times faster and loads within five seconds even on a 2G network connection.

The company now wants to take Lite to other markets, starting with English-speaking emerging markets with similar characteristics and connectivity issues, perhaps in the Asia Pacific region.

While the company doesn’t have a timeline for this, Kothari said it would happen very shortly and that the India team would definitely play a role in it considering everybody who works on LinkedIn Lite sits out of LinkedIn’s Bengaluru office. Eventually, it could reach a point where globally, the LinkedIn website auto-switches to the Lite version in case of poor connectivity, he added.

LinkedIn now has five lines of business in India: talent and marketing solutions, sales and learning solutions, and premium subscriptions. Of those, its talent solutions business (or recruiting business), is the biggest revenue contributor globally and in India too and will continue to remain so, the firm said. The premium subscriptions business is also a huge growth opportunity for the firm in India and LinkedIn is actively looking at making those more relevant to local users, Kothari said.

“Our focus continues to be improving accessibility and closing the skills gap. And on the customer side, our focus is very much on the small and medium businesses (SMB). Big enterprises are already coming to us and really want to work with us. It’s the SMBs, the start-ups of tomorrow, that we need to work with in terms of helping them grow their business with LinkedIn,” Kothari said.

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