Who Should Be on LinkedIn’s M&A Shopping List?

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LinkedIn made its Nasdaq NYSE debut Thursday morning with a bang. The company’s stock price more than doubled before lunch on its first day on the market, soaring within a few hours to share prices of more than $100 from its initial public offering price of $45 a share.

In all, LinkedIn’s IPO brought in $352.8 million for the company. What will LinkedIn buy with its new cash? LinkedIn mentioned it could use its IPO proceeds for “acquisitions of complementary businesses, technologies or other assets” in its S-1 filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. While mention of M&A is typically included in the boilerplate language of all public company filings, the web space has no shortage of potential acquisition candidates that could make their way to LinkedIn’s shopping list.

Here are a few options that could be on LinkedIn’s radar:

Hashable is a professional-focused social network (sounds familiar?) But since Hashable, which was founded in 2010, is much younger than the eight-year-old LinkedIn, it was built from the ground-up with mobile, geo-local, and social capabilities. My colleague Mathew Ingram has noted it’s “what LinkedIn would look like if it was built now.” And it’s worth noting that Hashable’s CEO Mike Yavonditte has built and sold companies before: He was the CEO of Quigo, a web-based ad company he sold to AOL in 2007 for $340 million.

Hashable has raised $4 million in venture capital.

Many employees at investment banks or insurance companies are prohibited by their companies from interacting on LinkedIn because of potential compliance issues. This Austin, Texas-based startup caught my colleague Stacey Higginbotham’s attention at this year’s South By Southwest conference for making extra-secure social networking tools targeted at those who work in highly regulated industries like financial services. Socialware currently has more than 100 corporate clients in the financial services space, and announced an official partnership with LinkedIn in March. “For years, LinkedIn has heard from financial companies that they struggle with getting access,” CEO Chad Bockius told me in a recent interview.

Socialware has raised $4.8 million in VC.

This San Francisco-based startup started in 2008 as a micro-blogging service for professionals, essentially a Twitter for enterprise companies. But in the past year, Yammer has evolved to include Facebook-like social networking services for the corporate set as well. The company is certainly addressing a lucrative market: Yammer purportedly now has 2 million verified users, 19 percent of whom pay for the service.

Yammer has raised $40 million in VC.

Indeed.com is now reportedly the world’s largest jobs site by unique visitors, besting even Monster.com. Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson recently called Indeed “possibly the best all around company in our portfolio” in a guest blog post on Business Insider. LinkedIn already has a job search feature, but buying Indeed could add an impressive amount of volume to the site’s current offerings.

Indeed has raised $5 million in VC.

Branchout brings those much-buzzed about “gamification” elements to professional networking. GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram flagged the startup as an attractive acquisition target for LinkedIn when Branchout launched with its Facebook app last summer. And Branchout is also led by an M&A-savvy CEO, Rick Marini, who sold social gaming site Tickle.com to Monster in 2004 for $100 million.

Branchout has raised $24 million in VC.

If you can think of any other M&A targets that could make sense for LinkedIn, please chime in using the comments.

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