09 July 2011

Workin' on the Chain Gang

LinkedIn, LinkedIn whatever are we to do with you? I've not had anything to say, given how silly the whole mess is, but today's NY Times has an almost true article. I don't have meaningful disagreement with the problems raised in the article, but it avoids the underlying issue. (That it makes my thesis that advertising based business is inherently unstable, is another atta boy for me.)

No, the problem with LinkedIn is that the business model is foolish. The business model is based on the assertion that people without employment and income will rush out to buy stuff. How stupid is that? One can slather on all sorts of finery, but that's the business model. At least Google attaches ads to activities utilized by everybody.

There's a reason that employment agencies charge money for their services; they actually do some work. Most of it is negative, removing for essentially arbitrary reasons otherwise qualified folks. LinkedIn presumes that if an unemployed is known to the employed, that this will embolden hiring agents to consider an unemployed for a position. Factually false. Been there, done that. Employers, though it be illegal, are more than willing to admit not interviewing an unemployed.

What, then, about those on LinkedIn who are currently employed? Will they be buying stuff? May be. May be not. The folks from my last employer that LinkedIn offers up each week or so, for instance. Are they looking? I don't know. I do know that 99.44% of them have never worked anywhere else (both young and old) or on any other software. In many cases only the decades old COBOL that constitutes the application. On a mainframe. Will such folks be buying stuff? Probably not.

Near as I can tell, LinkedIn, whether its progenitors say so or not, is attempting to implement what the high end (or low end, depending on your point of view) agencies promote: access to the hidden job market. Whether such actually exists has been a matter of controversy at least since the 1970's, lawsuits and all. For companies large enough to have an HR department, ain't nobody gettin' through without they go through them. It's job preservation, after all. For the SMB crowd, it might work. For startups (where the really interesting, and vastly stupid, activity is), even less so.

LinkedIn is a bottle rocket, soon enough to come crashing down. Google needn't worry that it is the advert server to fear. There will be such an advert server, as I have written. LinkedIn isn't it.

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