LinkedIn launches its first Middle East office in Dubai

LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network – announced the opening of its first Middle East office in Dubai today. With an office in Dubai Internet City (an information technology park), LinkedIn will be focusing on selling its hiring and recruitment solutions to firms in the Middle East. Its marketing solutions and advertising sales will be continued to be handled by Dubai Media City based Clique Media.

Hiring Solutions has been LinkedIn’s key revenue driver accounting for 53% in second quarter of 2012, while Marketing Solution accounted for 28%, and Premium subscriptions accounted for 19% (Source: LinkedIn Earnings).

Despite not being available in Arabic, LinkedIn has a strong presence in the Middle East. There are over 4.7 million registered users on LinkedIn in the Middle East, of which 2.5 million are in the GCC, and around 1.1 million in the UAE.

Disclosure: I work for Clique Media which has been handling LinkedIn’s marketing solutions and advertising sales in MENA since 2010.  LinkedIn’s revenue split has been taken from their earnings calls while their member count has been taken from their publicly available Ads tool.  



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The world’s favourite 800 pound gorilla is mobile enough

Facebook held a Mobile event yesterday where they had a bunch of announcements?:

  • Application updates for Android and iPhone, both now have access to Places and Groups
  • Single Sign On API which means you can log in to any application on your phone with 2 taps; no usernames, no passwords, no captchas.
  • Open access to places API – so far most applications could only read into the API, now all applications can write and search.
  • Deals platform – allowing business to have special deals/offers for users.
  • Oh and they also announced that there are 200 million users who use Facebook on Mobile. So there’s at least 25% of the Facebook population using Facebook mobile (I’m going by high estimates for total 600million users).

These were the announcements made by Facebook but there are heavy implications and strong insights that can be derived from these. Here’s what I make of it.

Facebook makes Foursquare irrelevant

Facebook, the world’s largest social network and platform was seen as lagging behind Geo Location earlier this year. Everyone’s favourite geo location darling was Foursquare who had a great idea. But that was it; all Foursquare had was a great idea. Foursquare has been unable to adapt and improve considerably since its launch. The idea of mayorships and points got stale quickly and the only thing that could have people sticking around is the idea of rewards. Unfortunately with slow approval times for businesses (some like Wild Peeta had it in a week, I had to wait 3-4 weeks) the service wasn’t quick enough and this definitely could have a thorn in its growth path. Some local businesses in the UAE did get specials onto Foursquare but that took a while too. This is a luxury Foursquare cannot afford since that is its main selling point. Even the newly international app SCVNGR (which I am super excited about) has challenges, treks and rewards going for which are a lot of fun, but faces stiff competition. Facebook however has the entire social element  going to keep its huge user base busy while they roll our Places worldwide. In the mean time Facebook went ahead and launched Deals which added real utility to the location element. Facebook wins, even if it is in a few weeks/months of from today and Foursquare starts to become irrelevant.

Facebook wins by solving the Geo Networking fragmentation

By opening up access to the Read, Write and Search API to all applications, Facebook has essentially turned most Geo Networking applications into clients that use the Facebook Places service, assuming this is what they do and they would be stupid not to. You can now check in to Foursquare, tag your Facebook friends on it and your friend on Gowalla can see where you checked in. Of course Facebook wins and they do it by bringing the Geo Networking fragmentation at one locus point; Facebook Places.

Mobile! Social! Local!   Mobile! Social! Local!

These are three words Eric Tseng, Head of Mobile repeated a few times and for good reason too. Facebook has more than tripled its mobile userbase from around 65 million this time last year to about 200 million yesterday. If that won’t make you a believer in mobile than not much else will. Mobile by its very essence is local and the growing numbers point people want to be social, locally. Businesses that understand and adapt to this will succeed. Groupon is a business that gets it; they’re local by nature, social by strategy and now increasingly mobile thanks to Facebook.

My blog title of course talks about Facebook’s (and the entire industry’s) growing emphasis on Mobile but it also talks about how mobile (quick to move) Facebook has been at rolling out new products. The 2000 person company has been agile enough to adapt and evolve to just as well as it leads the industry and that has been a major factor for it’s success. This is why Twitter and Google are so far behind in location and why they should feel threatened.

A quote from The Social Network stuck by me which describes Facebook perfectly – “It’s never finished“. My last post talks about how I feel Facebook might have less conversation and more activity on the platform now, and maybe it might have had a negative connotation to it. But now I feel, and as the platform is growing, that might not be a bad thing. Social doesn’t necessarily mean just talking and conversing, it can mean doing things together and sharing the things we do ourselves. It’s about bringing our connections deeper into our lives and enhancing our social lives further.

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I discuss Online Privacy and what it means for Businesses & Users

“What is left of privacy has become the user’s responsibility to control what they put up online, since anything you put up online can become public – one way or another; the phrase ‘Online Privacy’ is now nothing more than an oxymoron.

Suddenly marketers are sitting on unprecedented levels of data, opening up a new world of opportunities limited only by their definition of it.”

Read the entire article on Emirates Business 24/7

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What is your Foursquare Door policy?

A lot has been said about privacy on the internet – both in terms of what we put and who share it with. With the omnipresent nature of Facebook, the social network has evolved far beyond the tool it used to be to connect with existing friends. Facebook, similar to Twitter, is being used to form new relationship and make new connections.

Foursquare and other Location based networks, on the other hand are meant to be for your existing friends only, especially given the sensitive nature of the information they are built around. And that is what Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare would want you to believe as well. He has said before that Facebook is a place where people may become friends but on Foursquare people connect with people who “they truly wouldn’t mind running into during a night out”

A glance through my Social Graph paints a picture where users (including me) connect with people they may be acquainted with – over Facebook, Twitter and other networks – but may not necessarily have met each other, let alone be friends.

This leaves me wondering, what is your door policy on Foursquare? Do you accept every request that comes your way? Or only the ones you interacted with on a different social network? Or do you strictly maintain it to real life connections?

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Facebook wants Hyper-Like to be the new hyperlink, and other ways the social network is taking over the web.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said last night was the night the web –

as we know it – started its change into something drastically. f8, Facebook’s developer conference was held in San Francisco last night and Zuckerburg said what he had for us was the most ‘transformative’ thing they had ever done for the web. And the way they plan to do that is by empowering their developers. Although it was done in a better manner than the oh-so-elegant Steve Ballmer where he portrayed his ‘enthusiasm‘ for developers at a Microsoft Developer conference a couple of years ago.

The announcements made by Facebook had an underlying theme of ‘connections between people and things they care about’.

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