Expanding Internationally: A Primer with LinkedIn


Aatif Awan – VP Growth & International / LinkedIn



Expanding Internationally: A PrimerVP of growth


Linkedin went from 500,000 members in 2004 to over 500m members in 2017. Today they have offices in 32 cities around the world.

Let’s break down the 3 stages of growth they had:


  • Grew from 100k to 17m members
  • Achieved Product market fit
  • Built growth into the product
  • Founding team helped grow the platform by inviting we’ll connected people to join Linkedin.
  • Public profiles launched in 2006 – This led to major growth off the back of seo
  • Organic expansion was achieved into English speaking countries

2008 – 2011

  • Grew from 17m to 145m members
  • Dedicated team of aprox 15 people on acquisition
  • Identify key drivers
  • Translate site into new languages led to double growth in that target market

2012 – 2017

  • 145m to 545m members
  • Focus on engagement
  • Focus and measure Interactions, retention, resurrection
  • Quality signups
  • Expanded to 24 languages to ensure rapid growth in target markets
  • Major Mobile investment
  • Partnership investment to help grow significantly – e.g. with Indian Government, Huawei and others
  • Expanded global teams

Key lessons

  • long term market prioritisation framework
  • Importance to vision and mission
  • Product Market Fit Achieved
  • Customer growth
  • Network Effect
  • Where is the world headed, not just what it looks like today
  • Classify markets as core, strategic, venture and invest

Start with high ROI basic localisation

  • translation, voice and optimisation by geo
  • Local payment methods
  • Localise content
  • Invest in local customer services, biz dev, marketing, editorial, sales team

Remove local markets barriers to adoption

Qualitative research and understand pain points

Qualitative Analysis of product usage and funnels

Identified common barriers for signup which included:

  • user input field site speed
  • Price for local users, not global
  • Site speed – e.g lite version in markets where internet speed wasn’t as fast

Emerging markets, – Priced at 2/3 of the USA price point

Think local, make global

Assess whether your growth channels will scale in major international markets

SEO and viral growth had challenges

Designing for growth upfront saves a lot of effort in the long term

LinkedIn has to move from email messaging to inapp messaging – couldn’t have expanded to India as successfully for example if hadn’t done this

Think Global

  • Evangelise global growth early and often
  • Easy to lose sight of global
  • Make your mission global
  • Plan regular visits for key people to key markets – nothing better than being on the ground