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LinkedIn acquires Pulse, kills Groups and becomes context king

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LinkedIn confirmed it’s acquisition of the news reader app Pulse this week, a deal valued at approximately $90 million, 90% in the form of company stock and 10% in cash. While it’s not immediately clear where this will lead the Pulse team state “We’re still working together on the product you love, and will continue to provide an innovative and visual news reading experience,

For now, the Pulse apps will remain the same, and our two teams are excited to work together to create cool and useful new offerings,”

For now….

Prediction 1 – Groups will die

It’s no secret Weiner has made a big play for LinkedIn to be the next big content platform. They’ve killed off their own internal Q&A forum, Answers, in a bid to tidy things up and Jeff himself says they want to embed content into people’s feeds and profile updates.

In a recent post on IT Redux, I questioned the value of LinkedIn Groups now as it transpires that many are owned and run for profit by third party PR agencies but this is not made readily transparent. Add to the fact that most are filled with spam content and it becomes clear that Groups will no longer be a long term strategy for Weiner in his content platform vision.

Groups will die, it has no place to go or evolve and it doesn’t deliver the rich and intelligent experience Weiner wants for LinkedIn. With Pulse LinkedIn has a chance to cultivate discussion directly in-stream and make it transparent again.

Prediction 2 – It’s all about personal information streams

Pulse allows you to create personalized news content drawn from various RSS sources at it’s heart and LinkedIn wants this. I see the two teams creating a more contextual experience both from the existing LinkedIn app but also the news feed on the LinkedIn website itself. I wrote how Beniof stated that activity streams will be the way forward in an enterprise context and this is certainly where everything is heading here.

Integration with Pulse will allow people to build out their own content streams in a more intelligent way than is available right now on LinkedIn and as a consequence LinkedIn will be able to deliver a relevant, personalized contextual experience from it for users. At the moment it’s too difficult to do this from the homepage but Pulse can change all that.

On top of this, it will allow LinkedIn to offer more targeted marketing delivery for organizations wanting to benefit from this. LinkedIn wants to play big with ‘sponsored content’ much like everyone else but using their professional base to do it. Imagine you’re a company with a wealth of available content built over the years; Case Studies, Surveys, Whitepapers, Company Blogs, Weiner wants to be able to serve that content as a status update and target specific followers and they’re already working with the likes of Xerox, The Economist and Blackberry. Pulse can achieve this for them.

Prediction 3 – Enterprise Social Networks get personal

An acquisition by an ESN vendor of a similar service like Zite or Flipboard makes sense as a lateral move. Users can personalize content and work streams in the same way and ease as they would using these news apps.

It’s a left field suggestion but LinkedIn has just shown us how. Plus as a marketing ploy in itself it’s a no-brainer for vendors.

End state

Groups needs to follow Answers in the graveyard or be overhauled to the extent it can’t be misused anymore and becomes the intelligent discussion forum platform it once was.

Pulse becomes the means for which users build and receive personalized and relevant streams of information to subscribe to and consume.

And Pulse-like services could also point to a future of how work and activities streams can be organized.

LinkedIn wants to be the professional content delivery network. In order to do this though it needs to make sacrifices alongside its acquisitions.

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