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LinkedIn poised for public stock offering

Company expects to raise $175 million

SAN FRANCISCO – In one of the most anticipated stock market debuts of the year, LinkedIn Corp. plans to raise as much as $175 million in an initial public offering.

The Mountain View, Calif., company, which runs the largest networking site for professionals, became the first major social networking site to file a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. It is widely believed that LinkedIn could raise about $200 million in the offering.

The move could signal an end to the long dry spell for major Internet IPOs. Web content company Demand Media jumped 33 percent Wednesday in its first day of trading. Online coupon service Groupon Inc. is in talks about a possible public offering. Facebook Inc. will probably wait until 2012 for an IPO.

“Having a social media company as significant as LinkedIn being public will bring more investment money into the sector,” Wedbush Securities social media analyst Lou Kerner said.

Barring any roadblocks, the 7-year-old LinkedIn – with 1,000 employees and 90 million users – could go public in the next several months. Investors have been clamoring for shares of the privately held company, which has an implied value of $2.5 billion on private trading exchange SharesPost.

Setting up a profile is free on the website, but LinkedIn makes money from paid subscriptions and advertising. It had revenue of $161.4 million in the first nine months of 2010, almost double from the same period a year earlier, according to the prospectus. It had $1.85 million in profit in the first nine months of 2010.