LinkedIn a Safer Investment than Facebook?

Facebook has been abuzz lately with its likely public offering of stock. I wonder if LinkedIn might be a safer investment? The New York Times (1/28/2011) says that LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, filed a prospectus for an initial public offering on 1/27/2011, and that private shares of LinkedIn recently traded at an implied valuation of $2.51 billion on private exchanges. (Don’t know if there is a date for the actual offering yet.)

For comparison, the New York Times reported earlier this month that Facebook “has raised $500 million from Goldman Sachs and a Russian investor in a transaction that values the company at $50 billion.” Fifty billion, are you kidding me? Of course, I said something similar just before Google went public a few years ago.

People can crunch the numbers and talk about the number of users, dollars earned per user, share of market, etc. Those things are important, of course, for those seriously sinking some money in the market. In this post I’m just making a personal opinion based on my personal use of both social media tools. Facebook is really robust and fun, but it really scares me to death in regard to security and privacy. I don’t trust Mr. Zuckerberg all that much, and the movie about him lends to that concern.

I enjoy keeping up with friends, family and business acquaintances with Facebook. It does not, however, seem all that safe to me. Every day I question my use of it. The privacy rules seem to change regularly and changes to the tool seem to be devised more to raise revenue than to thrill the users. Security issues have popped up lately – Zuckerberg’s own account was hacked a few days ago. A serious misstep or calamity could really hurt Facebook.

LinkedIn isn’t perfect either, I know. Maybe some of the same issues exist there, too. However, I do find it to be quite valuable as a business networking and learning tool. I like that it’s focused on business professionals only. Facebook, unless you have consumer product, just doesn’t seem to be very beneficial for B2B. LinkedIn has brought me some new contacts and business opportunities, and I feel reasonably safe in using it. The groups have some really good discussions and give one opportunities to soft sell their expertise. So, I’d go with what has been good to me.

So, if I had some “walkin’ around” money to invest, and the choices were Facebook and LinkedIn, I think LinkedIn might be the safer investment. Most of all, I hope that all these rumored public offerings for these and other social media companies don’t go the same way as the tech bubble (aka dot-com bubble) that occurred at the turn of the century.

What do you think? LinkedIn? Facebook? Some other social media company? It’s all too risky? Bet the farm?

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