Three phases. Precisely three phases define LinkedIn’s journey in India, according to Akshay Kothari. In 2016, his leadership team in the US sent him to India, to take over LinkedIn’s India operations. Kothari’s first phase started in 2009, when LinkedIn already had 3.5 million subscribers. Back then, they just had a sales office.
In late 2012, the company entered its second phase, when they set up a research and development office in Bengaluru, which focused entirely on technology building. About a year ago, LinkedIn planned to localise sufficiently and open up new frontiers in the Indian market as part of phase three. “We decided to build products, essentially made here and adopted for local use case,” says Kothari. Since 2009, the subscriber base has touched an impressive 42 million; a more than 10-fold jump in eight years. The company rolled out three new products for India last September. First it launched LinkedIn Lite, a stripped-down mobile version of its website to make it easy to access in areas with poor connectivity. This helped a great deal in improving its accessibility. Then it launched Linked Placements that helps students in colleges and universities across the country get their first job and introduced the LinkedIn Starter Pack, which offers hiring, marketing and learning solutions targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Currently, India is LinkedIn’s second largest subscriber base after the US where it connects over 133 million professionals and the fastest growing market for the company. In the Asia-Pacific, China follows India with a total of over 31 million members. LinkedIn which focuses mainly on knowledge-based professions and white-collar professionals believes it still has a long way to go. “We are 40 million members in India but we still have a lot of room to grow. In our internal calculations, there are about 60 million professionals and 25 million students in India. If you add those up, we are about half way there,” says Kothari. But, this is not enough. Recently, LinkedIn has its eye set on blue-collar professionals in India, after the Indian government and parent company, Microsoft encouraged them to look at this group.