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LinkedIn to launch IPO on Thursday; could Facebook follow?

A big social networking web site is about to launch its public stock offering on Thursday but it's not Facebook although that company is reportedly thinking about it. The Los Angeles Times reports that the LinkedIn web site, devoted to making business connections and recommendations, is expected to launch its IPO on Thursday via the New York Stock Exchange.

When the IPO does go live, LinkedIn shares will be traded via the stock symbol LNKD. The story states that the company will offer 7.8 million shares for sale at prices of between $32 and $35 a share. That price would put the value of the company at between 3 billion and $3.3 billion.  The company hopes to raise $274 million from the IPO launch. In 2010 LinkedIn brought in earnings of just $15.4 million.

Launched in 2003, LinkedIn currently has over 100 million registered users, compared to over 600 million users on Facebook. LinkedIn's main features include tighter "connections' between its users than on Facebook and a way for people to recommend co-workers and others as part of the service's resume feature.

The launch of LinkedIn's IPO will be checked out by investors as other and much bigger private Internet companies consider going public as well. The biggest is of course Facebook. Today CNBC is reporting via unnamed sources that Facebook is meeting with bankers to discuss the size of a possible IPO launch. While the company has not yet decided to create a public stock offering the story says that it is considering it as an strategic option.

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