In her piece on LinkedIn in PEWire, Connie Loizos writes about Jeff Weiner’s talk at Web 2.0 Summit this week and exhorts him to pick up the pace at LinkedIn — using Reid Hoffman’s reluctance to introduce photos to LinkedIn as an example of an essential conservatism in the company. I have to completely disagree with her analysis, as I’ve been watching LinkedIn since its inception, and have been impressed with both their willingness to change, as well as their actual implementation of new UX, features and especially experimental features. Their rapid implementation of Groups, Answers, their search refinements, integration with other social networks, etc etc has always been rapidly executed. Their Chief Scientist, DJ Patil and his team are especially agile innovators, with an incredible fund of data to work with and many experimental features cooking in their labs.
I have to especially agree with Jeff’s assertion that the lack of Kegstands and hot tub photos on LinkedIn is one of LinkedIn’s key distinguishing features. It should be preserved and defended at all costs. In building a social network, the standards and mores of a community are its lifeblood; one does not lightly ‘experiment’ with these and LinkedIn is exactly right to defend them. I think Loizos’ article mistakenly conflates the company’s defense of LinkedIn’s culture with conservatism. It’s just not so.
I’d also take issue with the assertion that they haven’t made any “high profile” personnel changes. Weiner coming in as CEO is as high profile as you could hope for, and I believe that hiring name brand talent isn’t as successful of a strategy as hiring great engineers and developers, which I have seen them doing again and again. They should know, they’re a company that specializes in employment and hiring. 🙂