March 29, 2011, 7:00 AM BREAKING NEWS – On Friday afternoon March 25th the personal laptop of an unnamed LinkedIn executive was stolen from a Caribou Coffee just outside of corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California. Within 48 hours, the computer had been hacked and confidential information – including plans detailing a massive acquisition strategy – were posted to Insider Leeks www.insiderleeks.com, just five days in advance of their scheduled announcement after the closing bell on Friday April 1st. (The site has since been shut down as of 11pm Monday night).
Details Downloaded, Posted, Revealed
The compromised reports revealed that in an effort to boost the stock price of their upcoming IPO, LinkedIn has been clandestinely buying up an array of companies, historic landmarks, and national treasures, and strategically assimilating them under the LinkedIn brand umbrella. The detailed intelligence included both maps and spreadsheets (delineated by division and operating units) emphatically stating that this growth strategy is in direct response to the “aggressive imperialistic actions” taken by their biggest online rivals (Google, Twitter and Facebook) over the past few months.
Competitor Buying Binge Signals Intentions
In December 2010, in what was the biggest real estate deal of the year, Google bought one of the largest office buildings in Manhattan for $1.8 billion. The 15-story brick edifice covers an entire block on Eight Avenue and totals over 2.9 million square feet – boasting more space than the Empire State Building – and already houses Google’s East Coast headquarters and 1,800 employees. Last August, micro-blogging firm Twitter added to their stable of talent with the acquisition of Atebits (and their popular Tweetie iPhone app), made another strategic move in late December with the purchase of Q&A service firm Fluther, and just announced Monday that their two co-founders are switching roles. And two weeks ago on March 14th archrival Facebook also tipped their hand by announcing they had hired away a key member of the Google’s corporate development team Amin Zoufonoun to lead and grow their fledgling M&A division, and on Sunday revealed advanced talks with former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn has grown exponentially as the networking destination for business professionals, hitting revenues exceeding $200M in 2010, and is currently one of the hottest traded private stocks on SecondMarket.com. Since filing with the SEC back in January, the preliminary Intrinsic Value of the IPO suggests a valuation of $2.6 – $2.9B, which could easily increase over the next few months given their 80% growth and 20% EBITDA operating margins. After their initial acquisition of recommendation startup mSpoke in 2010, LinkedIn appears ready to go “all in” as management has decided to complement their existing model of online clicks with actual bricks, aggressively pursuing an acquisition strategy to purchase and rebrand signature properties, landmarks, and companies from coast to coast.
Secret Acquisitions Unveiled
The first and perhaps most startling of the classified deals detailed on the stolen hard drive was a major infrastructure play involving the purchase of the Lincoln Tunnel – a submerged 1.5 mile highway running under the Hudson River and connecting Weehawken, New Jersey with the borough of Manhattan in New York. Rebranded as the “LinkedIn Tunnel,” this strategy (code named “The Pincer Move”) boldly defends this preemptive tactic, stating, “If we are able to control physical access to the business district, we may be able to limit access to Google’s new headquarters as well.” Clearly NYC is a major focus of their campaign, as just blocks from the tunnel their newly acquired “LinkedIn Square” and the world famous “LinkedIn Center for the Performing Arts” will begin featuring distinctively digital fare to further strengthen local marketing efforts to reach their core audience in the Big Apple.
Their government play is perhaps the most audacious, with the 100-year lease and transfer of associated naming rights to the soon-to-be rechristened “LinkedIn Memorial,” majestically situated near the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall in DC, and augmented by their purchase of the historically tragic “LinkedIn Theater” downtown.
In the Midwest, the company snatched up Cleveland’s largest arc-welding company and renamed it “LinkedIn Electric,” and they are in final negotiations with retailer K’Nex to purchase and rebrand their most popular toy franchise “LinkedIn Logs.” With America’s domestic car companies still on the ropes, the decision to partner with Ford and their historically affluent demographic was a natural fit, resulting in the roll-out of several upcoming co-branded 2013 models, including the networked and technologically advanced “LinkedIn Continental,” “LinkedIn Navigator,” and the classic “LinkedIn Town Car.” And finally, in a desperate move to avoid bankruptcy and a complete government shutdown, the governor of the impoverished Cornhusker State agreed to accept an undisclosed sum of money in exchange for selling naming rights, and forever changing their capital city to “LinkedIn, Nebraska.”
Whether all of these efforts will produce the desired results – or even stand up in court – remains to be seen, as rumors on the Internet have already been circulating regarding the legal fight that is soon to follow, led by the SEC’s top litigator Robert Douglas. Talk-show pundits are already referring to them as the “LinkedIn – Douglas Debates.”
Asked to comment on these bombshell revelations, Nathan Kievman, CEO of social media think-tank and strategic powerhouse DemingHill, Inc. www.deminghill.com and owner of the top LinkedIn Strategies group, was both puzzled and flabbergasted, stating “Next thing you know, they’ll be in Washington lobbying to establish a national holiday for LinkedIn’s Birthday!” I’ll Link to that!
Douglas O’Bryon, Soundbite Laureate
Chief Content Officer, DemingHill
Disclaimer: No landmarks or laptops were harmed in the writing of this fiction.