Local Marketplaces and Network Effects

Professional

I am sensing a tipping point in the usage of LinkedIn among Turkish professionals.  My invitation volume from Turks has increased by at least an order of magnitude since the beginning of the year.  While I have historically been very promiscuous with my LinkedIn connection acceptances, I am now changing my behavior and have modified my privacy settings to make it more difficult to friend me.

I have been watching the ratio of Facebook and LinkedIn users closely.  Today Facebook stands at 800m users and Linkedin at 116m.  That ratio suggests that with ~30m Turkish users on Facebook, Linkedin should enjoy a crowd of 4m.  I don't know what that number is but Google AdPlanner suggests traffic numbers at less than 1% of global traffic.  That tells me the traffic and attention upside on LinkedIn for Turkey remains enormous.  

Combine that with the facts that LinkedIn is enjoying the recent growth I mentioned (albeit anecdotally) in the first paragraph and it is already ranked 61 on Alexa Turkey, and one would expect LinkedIn to break into the top 25 properties by Turkish traffic fairly soon. Game over. LinkedIn has won.

Cember.net was the first company to try to capture the Turkish professional networking opportunity.  After the Xing acquisition, the mindshare that it enjoys has all but disappeared.  That was followed with a few attempts to provide similar utility to Turkish professionals, but no one was able to reach critical mass.  Now LinkedIn has arrived and the window of opportunity has been shut.

This should be a lesson to ventures in areas with significant global network effect.  In local markets, there will exist a window of opportunity to build a marketplace and get to critical mass, at which point you can exit the local venture before the global players prioritize your market.  If you are too slow, you will not be able to realize value before the global network effect kicks in.

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