LinkedIn CEO: Not enough free time for all social nets

Analysts say Weiner shows his fear of momentum behind Google+

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner raised a few eyebrows Monday when he forecast the demise of Google+, which has been attracting attention and gaining momentum.

Speaking at a Churchill Club event in Santa Clara, Calif., on Monday, Weiner was asked if there is a limit to the number of social networks that can successfully exist.

"Nobody has any free time," Business Insider quoted Weiner as saying. "Unlike social platforms and TV, which can co-exist, you don't see people using Twitter while they're using Facebook, or using Facebook while they're using LinkedIn."

He added that before Google launched field trials of its own social network, Google+, a little more than two weeks ago, the social networking world had a simple setup. According to Business Insider, Weiner explained to the audience that people use LinkedIn for their professional lives and Facebook for socializing with family and friends. Meanwhile, Twitter gives people a way to share their thoughts with a broad audience.

But now Google+ is upsetting that mix. "You introduce Google+... where am I going to spend that next minute or hour of my discretionary time?" he asked. "I have no more time."

Weiner's comments come just days after Google CEO Larry Page announced that Google+ had gained 10 million users in its first two weeks of field trials. The new network is still accessible only by invitation and is not officially open. But that hasn't stopped Google+ from gaining a lot of attention.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, said Weiner's comments sound like wishful thinking on the part of a competitor that might feel threatened by Google+.

"It's like saying there's only room for one search provider or one anything else," Enderle said. "The market likes a choice. We're just not to a place where there are too many choices. Even though Facebook has an awful lot of users, I don't think we can write Google off."

He said that dismissing Google+ at this point seems "foolish."

"I think a lot of people want Google+ to fail," Enderle said. "I think there's a fear that Google+ would absorb what [LinkedIn is] doing. There's an expectation that people would make their business connections in Circles on Google+ and stop using LinkedIn. There might not be a reason for LinkedIn to exist anymore. He's just theorizing an outcome that favors him."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group, agreed, noting that users might be more apt to use Facebook and Google+ and simply dump LinkedIn.

"I think this is Weiner whining," he added. "Google's biggest strength is that it has Google backing it, so it can appeal to its Google Docs base, its Gmail base and get exposure through its search engine. LinkedIn has none of that."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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