LinkedIn new age policy: new expenses for parents, nothing for the company
So, beginning on September 12, LinkedIn is lowering minimum age requirement to 14 years (United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Korea), 16 years (Netherlands), 18 years old (China), and 13 years old (all other countries).
Now let's see step by step why this move is bad for the company.
First, LinkedIn is a professional network where business people, companies and head hunters are exchanging experiences and make you business deals. The company is the strongest in the field, no doubt about that. However, there is Facebook. Teenagers are on Facebook, colleges are on Facebook, companies are on Facebook. This LinkedIn's move is a direct attack on Facebook which - well, this is obvious - won't succeed. When it comes to young people networking, Facebook is simply too strong.
Second, we are talking here about people 13 years old. Although human society is advancing every day, a legitimate question to ask is "How deep young people are engaged in business topics?" and "Should we put additional pressure on them?" Does LinkedIn expect young people to throw away Justin Biber and Lady Gaga, stories about last party, boys and girls love, and everything characteristic for 13-years old - just to focus on "how to make a perfect CV"? Did LinkedIn leadership ask themselves a question what teenagers do at 13? No, they don't.
Fourth, the new age policy will put additional pressure on children and their parents. And new expenses, too. Try to imagine a college enrollment and the question "So, where is your son's LinkedIn page?" Panic! Horror! Let's hire somebody to make that! In other words, we are seeing a new industry, let's call it "Young CV experts" and the cost of that new kind of social "gurus" and "ninjas" will be high, you can bet on that. Another few hundreds or even thousands for parents to spend.
And fifth, what the new age limit will bring to the company? LinkedIn is leaving the field it knows best - professional connecting - and entering a new market with no reason at all. The company reached the peek where it must say to shareholders what will be in the long run. A simple look at P/E, free cash flow and price to cash flow reveals that LinkedIn needs a new strategy for the future. It would be better to focus on an international expansion and stick to the business LinkedIn does best.
If you are reading this article, you are - just like we - deep in business, we love it's upside downs, we find stock fluctuations exciting, love to read about companies, products, strategies and all that stuff that make business life so exciting. But to expect a 13-years old to write CV at the beginning of life and talk about ROI, P/E and to think what MBA to choose?
Yes, there are such kids, but we are talking about almost nonexistent percentage of them. Other 99.9% are doing what teenagers are doing at 13 and enjoy life before being sucked in cruel, corporate life in their 20s. ■