February 8, 2008 §
This week, LinkedIn announced the future launch (apparently you can do that) of the LinkedIn Research Network. Product manager Mike Gamson spoke about the service earlier this week to eWeek and at the Money:Tech conference currently being held in NYC. O’Reilly reported on it as well. The LinkedIn Research Network, if it is ever actually launched, will actually be the relaunch of the failed low-tech LinkedIn Experts service (screenshot), which was little publicized and went dead several months ago. The service charged users $500 for a 1 hour conversation with LinkedIn network members, of which LinkedIn retained $250. LinkedIn seems to have dropped the pay-per-conversation model with the new LinkedIn Research Network, which, according to reports, will be yet another expert network subscription service. The tough thing for LinkedIn is that fact that any sort of “connection” service beyond the standard LinkedIn profile messaging services is an acceptance on LinkedIn’s part that the standard services they offer don’t actually work. For a company that has been gearing up for an IPO for the last year and scrambling to catch up with Facebook’s API and user growth, this seems like a strange time to start cannibalize their existing revenue streams and launch a project that is likely draw the attention of the SEC…they should ask Gerson Lehrman about that. Additionally, LinkedIn’s 18 million users are all accessible to any other LinkedIn user, along with KnowledgeBid and anyone else looking to source specialized expertise…and so are all of Facebook’s 50 million users, let alone everyone else you can find with a simple Google search. For these reasons we at KnowledgeBid concluded long ago that the expert network subscription model is dead. We build expert network management software that allows researchers to quickly and easily grow and manage their own proprietary expert networks with no subscription fees.