Illustration: Shira Inbar

Inside LinkedIn: the Rise of the Normcore Social Network

How the professional platform became a site that millions of people check every day — even when they’re not looking for a job

Simone Stolzoff
Published in
12 min readDec 6, 2019

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Like most people, Goldie Chan turned to LinkedIn because she was out of work.

It was the end of 2017, and after years of working in digital marketing, she was taking a one-month sabbatical before she figured out what to do next. Scrolling through her LinkedIn feed, which at the time was mostly filled with job updates and the occasional news link, she saw a video icon next to the share box. LinkedIn was starting to experiment with native video content, and she had been invited to join the private beta.

Chan thought creating videos for the burgeoning video platform might be a good way to pass the time before she found her next job. “That way, it’d look less like I had a gap from being gainfully employed,” she says. The next day, Chan made her way to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Los Angeles to shoot her first video. Little did she know, LinkedIn Video was about to change her life.

LinkedIn’s audience has grown over 60% and its revenue has nearly doubled, to over $7 billion.

Chan does not look like the typical Patagonia-vest wearer who you might expect to be big on LinkedIn. Her go-to look is cat-eyeliner and an electric-green bob, covered by her signature bowler hat. She’s more prone to chat about Dungeons and Dragons than sales funnels and cold emails. But for the two years after that fateful day in August 2017, Chan posted a video to LinkedIn every single day, amassing over 6 million views.

Chan represents a larger shift in LinkedIn’s demographic. Once known as a platform for white-collar professionals to host their resumes, LinkedIn is now a learning platform, a media company, and a software-as-a-service provider. Three years ago this week, Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in its largest acquisition ever. In the three years since, LinkedIn’s audience has grown over 60% and its revenue has nearly doubled, to over $7 billion.

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Simone Stolzoff
Marker
Writer for

Writer based in Oakland. I’m interested in tech ethics, automation, and the future of work. Work @IDEO. Newsletter here: articlebookclub.substack.com.