LinkedIn has turned 20 years old today: Here's a brief history of the social network

LinkedIn Office Toronto

Today, it has been 20 years since LinkedIn, a social networking platform for professionals, came into existence. LinkedIn officially launched on May 5, 2003, but it was co-founded by Reid Hoffman and Eric Ly in December 2002. In fact, LinkedIn pre-dates the popular social network Facebook which is frequented by around three billion monthly active users.

LinkedIn started in Hoffman's living room back in the day but now it has a presence in over 200 countries globally with 930 million users onboard. However, this wasn't his first experience with online social platforms. In 1994, Hoffman worked on Apple's eWorld which was an online service that combined email, news, and software downloads. He also launched an online dating site called in 1997.

LinkedIn's founding team included business and tech people from PayPal and SocialNet. By 2004, it had amassed 1.2 million users and the number of connected contacts had reached 50 million. Its Series B funding pitch to Greylock reveals that Linkedin had acquired a 73% market share at the time competing against other professional networks such as Ryze, OpenBC, Spoke, and ZeroDegrees.

Man using LinkediN

A major milestone in LinkedIn's history came in 2016 when Microsoft acquired it for $26.2 billion. However, the Sunnyvale-headquartered company has also made numerous acquisitions of its own since 2010, including Mspoke, IndexRank, SlideShare,, Pulse, and most recently EduBrite.

While anyone can signup and use the platform for free, its paid tier LinkedIn Premium unlocks additional features for the users. In fact, paid products have been on the company's radar since its initial days. The company launched LinkedIn Jobs as its first premium service in 2005 which allowed hiring managers and recruiters to list positions at $95 per job.

As of June 2020, LinkedIn is headed by the current CEO Ryan Roslansky who joined the company back in 2009. He is known for playing a crucial role in the $1.5 billion acquisition of More recently, the company jumped on the AI bandwagon by adding tools based on GPT-4 that can write the About section in users' profiles.

Another LinkedIn AI tool launched recently can draft messages to the hiring teams on behalf of job seekers. To boost their credibility, Linkedin also allows users to verify their work credentials. However, LinkedIn is no stranger to the wave of mass tech layoffs that started last year.

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