Despite being a year older than Facebook and boasting 135,000,000 users, the website is less well known than other social networking sites. Fame and media attention are not everything though, because LinkedIn pushes all the buttons professionals and companies need in a social network. This is why all the executives of the Fortune 500 count themselves as LinkedIn members. This is also, why LinkedIn has been profitable since 2006 and was floated as a public company in 2011. The website was founded in 2002 and launched in spring, 2003. IT was founded by Reid Hoffman. Hoffman began his career at Apple and Fujitsu after graduating from Stanford and Oxford universities in the 1990s. He was a member of the founding board of American financial transaction website PayPal and along with several other members, founded LinkedIn after PayPal was acquired by eBay in 2002.
LinkedIn grew steadily, but not at the fast rate seen in more youth and social orientated networks such as Facebook, but nor did it crash and burn like MySpace or stagnate like Friendster. Its major growth has been more recent as it reached 50 million users in 2009, 70 in 2010 and 100 million in 2011. The current number of users is 135 million. As the map below demonstrates, LinkedIn members are fairly spread around the world with the largest group being Americans.