Netscape’s 1995 IPO was the start of what many considered the beginning of the Internet boom. Did LinkedIn just create the 2011 equivalent? The 8-year-old social networking giant today priced its initial public offering at $45 per share, with shares nearly doubling in the open market to more than $85 in early trading.

That gives the Mountain View, California-based company a market value of about $8 billion, which The New York Times notes is an astonishing figure given that it was valued in the private markets at just $2.5 billion.

LinkedIn does boast more than 100 million members in over 200 countries. But its revenue base is still relatively small for the valuation affixed to it. The company reported revenue of $243 million last year, up from $120 million in 2009.

The company is now profitable and growing fast.

But just to put that $8 billion valuation number in perspective: Expedia, with first quarter revenue of $822 million, has a market value of $7.3 billion.

The IPO is already creating all sorts of bubble talk. The Huffington Post asks: “LinkedIn IPO Is Biggest Since Google’s–But Is It Too Big?”

What do you think: Would you buy LinkedIn shares at the current $8 billion valuation?

UPDATE: LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner appeared on Bloomberg TV today, and spoke about the company’s acquisition plans and future revenue growth. He was also asked about the opening stock price:

“We are very comfortable with where we priced. We spent a lot of time with the right kind of investors–folks who understand the story, the fundamentals, who are in it for the long haul. That’s our focus.”

Weiner also was asked about future acquisitions:

“On the acquisition front, we will probably stay toward the smaller end of that range, looking for talent and for technology that can accelerate our product roadmap. If we find potential tuck-ins that could be accretive on a top and bottom line basis, we would obviously consider those as well. It’s an exciting day for us.”

And he was asked about competing with Facebook:

“I think context really matters. LinkedIn is all about serving the needs of our professional members. In that respect, it makes our platform unique. We have over 100 million members now. We’re growing at the fastest absolute rate of growth in the company’s history, adding faster than one member per second…It uniquely situates us and that is certainly the case when it comes to the critical mass scale we have achieved on a global basis.”

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  • Guest

     Oh, John. LinkedIn is the only social networking site that actually has:

    1. A purpose. Men on LinkedIn connect to get a better job, not to share funny cat pictures nor to play farm simulation games.

    2. A business model. Recruiters in search of good candidates pay to see all the talented men on LinkedIn. This means that LinkedIn can sell services, not adverts or coupons, to pay the bills.

    3. A future. There will always be more ways to pester your friends and fans with asinine pithy illeist statements such as “John likes to eat Reese’s Pieces.” LinkedIn is the only large-scale social networking site built around a purpose of improving one’s career.

    At $8 billion, LinkedIn actually demonstrates real value. I wish all other services were as reasonably valuated relative to their importance in the world.

    • dabacon

       And wow they have even a better business model because their site actually also allows…woman.  

  • Jeff Rodenburg

    I would buy LinkedIn at 85, for the long-term.  Unlike the last bubble, LinkedIn has gone public with a few key items — revenue, profit, user base, etc.  They are the most legitimate public source for one’s resume/CV, and (IMHO) the most important business social network in operation.  5 years from now, I expect we will be talking about how LinkedIn was worth *only* $8 Billion.

    @Guest – Good points, but you left out half the user base — women.  Women are on LinkedIn, too.  :-)

    • Guest

      I use the word “man” to refer to the species, not to the sex thereof. 

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