LinkedIn announced on Thursdayit has acquired mobile news aggregation startup Pulse, as Kara Swisher reported last month that it would, signaling another step by the massive professional network toward becoming an online content powerhouse.
It’s a big buy for LinkedIn, costing a cool $90 million, according to the company.
The app, which collects news articles from a range of topics chosen by users and presents them in a clean, stylish format, rose to the top of Apple’s App Store ranks just a few years ago, quickly becoming a favorite among the many newsreaders currently available. Pulse currently claims more than 30 million users globally who read more than ten million stories daily using the app.
But more than that, it’s yet another move by LinkedIn to expand beyond being just a static resume service for recruiters and professionals. Spearheaded by executive editor (and former Fortune and Wired journalist) Dan Roth, LinkedIn has made major strides in pushing original and partner content through the site, aiming to keep users returning and engaged on a regular basis.
“We believe LinkedIn can be the definitive professional publishing platform — where all professionals come to consume content and where publishers come to share their content,” LinkedIn SVP of product and user experience Deep Nishar said in a company blog post. “Pulse is a perfect complement to this vision.”
In that vein, the company launched its “Influencer” program late last year, essentially asking big names in business, entertainment and politics to write original think pieces that users can read on the site. And, in Twitter-esque fashion, users are able to “follow” those influencers across the site, so that only the content users want will appear inside their respective feeds. (Not surprisingly, the move came only months after Twitter cut off LinkedIn tweet syndication, which provided LinkedIn with most of the content flowing through the system up until that point.)
And of course, let’s not forget LinkedIn Today, the company’s news aggregation service which also brings users tons of fresh stories on the regular.
Engagement, after all, is pretty much LinkedIn’s key theme for 2013. As the site undergoes multiple design revamps across user pages and the company’smassively profitable recruiting products, LinkedIn is trying to escape its image as a one-off, sparingly used online resume service. It wants to be the home page for professionals, including the place where those pros go to catch up on the biz news they care about.
So a service like Pulse, which lets a company know exactly what sort of stuff its users want to read and care about, is likely pretty valuable to what LinkedIn is trying to do.
Yes, engagement is good for the overall health of the site, and for keeping recruiters abreast of the latest movements and activity for the 200 million people who use LinkedIn. But it has another side effect: The more page views and user activity coming in, the more potential to bolster LinkedIn’s ad business, one of the company’s three revenue streams.
LinkedIn wasn’t the only one who saw Pulse’s value. As we reported previously, sources said Pulse was in discussions with Yahoo, Microsoft, Gannett and even Amazon at points.
Ultimately, LinkedIn emerged the victor. Now we get to wait and see just exactly how the company wants to make Pulse work for it.