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TheStreet Open House

LinkedIn: A Game Changer, Not Just a Better Rolodex

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I appreciate well-written work. If it makes me react and rethink my position, I have nothing but love and respect for the author.

With that in mind, I suggest you read Chris Laudani's LinkedIn is a Glorified Rolodex. Not only do you get to read a bear case on LinkedIn (LNKD), but you get a free preview of TheStreet's excellent Real Money premium service.

I take exception, however, with two points at the core of Laudani's argument.

First, he claims LinkedIn is merely an online knockoff of Robert Half (RHI). Fair enough. But does that make Coinstar (CSTR) and Netflix (NFLX) cheap imitations of video rental stores and movie theaters? Is Stamps.com (STMP) a pointless endeavor because we have the U.S. Postal Service? Are social media sites merely glorified email and coked-up message boards?

Large swaths of investors completely misunderstand what the alleged "bubble" of "Web 2.0" is all about. The entrepreneurs who start companies such as LinkedIn are not merely looking to make a splash, go public and cash out. They are intent on changing the world by connecting people and making life's daily processes -- for business and pleasure -- more efficient.

We live in extraordinary times, yet, at every turn, somebody stands by ready to shoot down the zeitgeist.

Over the course of the past decade or two, Apple's (AAPL) Steve Jobs reshaped computing as he invented iPod, iPhone and iPad. Tim Westergren came up with the groundbreaking idea for Pandora (P) and ended up disrupting entire industries. Mark Zuckerberg built Facebook (FB) in his dorm room and effectively spawned Twitter. And let's not forget about the man who, at the end of the day, started all of the madness in the mid-1990s: Jeff Bezos turned retail and a handful of other spaces on their ears as he pioneered what we take for granted as e-commerce.

Laudani's second point of contention against LinkedIn focuses on an oft-repeated argument: It spends too much money (he's not sure on exactly what or why; he should consult Bezos on this) and the firm's revenues have slowed.

To the latter point, Laudani directs us to LinkedIn's conference call slideshow and notes:

On slide five, revenue growth peaked during the third quarter of last year. It's on the chart. You can't miss it. I didn't listen to the conference call, so I didn't hear what management said about the slowdown in revenue growth, but I would think they would blame seasonality.

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