You don’t hear much about LinkedIn in the news or in any of the social media controversies that pop up from time to time.
That’s because LinkedIn is doing its own thing, catering to a specific audience, and not caring about unnecessary things.
But is the platform making money? And if it is, is it profitable? That’s what I’ll be talking about in this article.
Using reputable sources and making my own judgments on the data, I’ll give you a detailed overview of LinkedIn’s financial situation, both in the present and in the past.
Here are the main headlines I’ll talk about:
- Quarterly revenue and income from 2010 to 2022
- LinkedIn’s 2019 – 2021 revenue per segment
- Global annual EBITDA from 2019 to 2021
- Ad revenue worldwide from 2017 to 2026
- Annual costs and expenses generated by LinkedIn from 2019 to 2022
There’s plenty to talk about, so we should get started!
LinkedIn’s Annual Revenue & Income from 2010 to 2022
In this section, I’ll show you LinkedIn’s annual revenue and profit per individual quarter from 2010 to 2022 with added commentaries on whether their revenue evolution looks healthy or crumbling.
Here’s the chart (plus this) we’ll be working with:
|Period||Revenue||Quarterly Income/Loss||% Revenue Increase/Decrease|
|Q2 2010||$54.9 million||+ $4.3 million|
|Q3 2010||$61.8 million||+ $4 million||+ 12.56% from last quarter|
|Q4 2010||$81.7 million||+ $5.3 million||+ 32.20% from last quarter|
|Q1 2011||$93.9 million||+ $2.1 million||+ 14.93% from last quarter|
|Q2 2011||$121 million||+ $4.5 million||+ 28.86% from last quarter|
|Q3 2011||$139.5 million||– $1.6 million||+ 15.28% from last quarter|
|Q4 2011||$167.7 million||+ $6.9 million||+ 20.21% from last quarter|
|Q1 2012||$188.5 million||+ $5 million||+ 12.40% from last quarter|
|Q2 2012||$228.2 million||+ $2.8 million||+ 21.06% from last quarter|
|Q3 2012||$252 million||+ $2.3 million||+ 10.42% from last quarter|
|Q4 2012||$303.6 million||+ $11.5 million||+ 20.47% from last quarter|
|Q1 2013||$324.7 million||+ $22.6 million||+ 6.94% from last quarter|
|Q2 2013||$363.7 million||+ $3.7 million||+ 12.01% from last quarter|
|Q3 2013||$393 million||– $3.4 million||+ 8.05% from last quarter|
|Q4 2013||$447.2 million||+ $3.8 million||+ 13.79% from last quarter|
|Q1 2014||$473.2 million||– $13.4 million||+ 5.81% from last quarter|
|Q2 2014||$534 million||– $1 million||+ 12.84% from last quarter|
|Q3 2014||$568 million||– $4.3 million||+ 6.36% from last quarter|
|Q4 2014||$643 million||+ $3 million||+ 13. 20% from last quarter|
|Q1 2015||$638 million||– $43 million||– 0.77% from last quarter|
|Q2 2015||$712 million||– $68 million||+ 11.59% from last quarter|
|Q3 2015||$780 million||+ $41 million||+9.55% from last quarter|
|Q4 2015||$862 million||– $8 million||+ 10.51% from last quarter|
|Q1 2016||$861 million||– $99 million||– 0.11% from last quarter|
|Q2 2016||$933 million||– $119 million||+ 8.36% from last quarter|
|Q3 2016||$960 million||+ $9 million||+ 2.89% from last quarter|
|Q1 2017||$976 million||Not available||+ 1.66% from two quarters ago|
|Q2 2017||$1.067 billion||Not available||+ 9.32% from last quarter|
|Q3 2017||$1.148 billion||Not available||+ 7.59% from last quarter|
|Q4 2017||$1.312 billion||Not available||+ 14.28% from last quarter|
|Q1 2018||$1.335 billion||Not available||+ 1.75% from last quarter|
|Q2 2018||1.464 billion||Not available||+ 9.66% from last quarter|
|Q3 2018||$1.530 billion||Not available||+ 4.50% from last quarter|
|Q4 2018||$1.693 billion||Not available||+ 10.65% from last quarter|
|Q1 2019||$1.696 billion||Not available||+ 0.17% from last quarter|
|Q2 2019||$1.835 billion||Not available||+ 8.19% from last quarter|
|Q3 2019||$1.904 billion||Not available||+ 3.76% from last quarter|
|Q4 2019||$2.102 billion||Not available||+ 10.39% from last quarter|
|Q1 2020||$2.050 billion||Not available||– 2.47% from last quarter|
|Q2 2020||$2.106 billion||Not available||+ 2.73% from last quarter|
|Q3 2020||$2.206 billion||Not available||+ 4.74% from last quarter|
|Q4 2020||$2.577 billion||Not available||+ 16.81% from last quarter|
|Q1 2021||$2.562 billion||Not available||– 0.58% from last quarter|
|Q2 2021||$2.944 billion||Not available||+ 14.91% from last quarter|
|Q3 2021||$3.136 billion||Not available||+ 6.52% from last quarter|
|2022||$13.816 billion||Not available|
The reason LinkedIn’s income/loss data is unavailable from 2017 onwards is because Microsoft acquired the company in December 2016.
Since 2017, Microsoft stopped publishing LinkedIn’s income/loss separately. Instead, it was calculated as part of Microsoft’s entire package of products.
Putting that aside, if we look at LinkedIn’s financial history, we can see that it’s been profitable for most of its existence. It did have some odd quarters where it operated on a loss but nothing too out of the ordinary.
Instead, what is a bit weird is the string of income losses that started in Q2 2014 and followed up until Q2 2016 when the company was operating on a whopping $119 million loss.
Even though its revenue had increased almost constantly, that loss likely sealed the deal for the company.
These losses are likely what led to the sellout to Microsoft in December 2016. LinkedIn was sold for $26 billion, which was quite an astronomical sum back then.
Whether it paid off or not, I can’t tell you for sure because, as I said, LinkedIn’s financial data is no longer reported separately from Microsoft’s apps.
However, LinkedIn is still alive and kicking in 2023, which tells me that the app has to make a profit. Otherwise, Microsoft would have closed it down. In the coming chapters, I’ll show you more about LinkedIn’s sources of revenue.
LinkedIn’s 2019 – 2021 Revenue per Segment
Luckily for us, I managed to find a Statista chart that shows LinkedIn’s 2019-2021 revenue per segment.
I’m mainly interested in ad revenue and premium account revenue, just to get an idea of the company’s financial health.
The chart is down below:
|Year||Revenue for Advertising||Revenue from Premium Accounts||Other Revenues|
|2019||$2.52 billion||$4.01 billion||$4.24 billion|
|2020||$3 billion||$4.23 billion||$5.08 billion|
|2021||$3.82 billion||$4.45 billion||$6.47 billion|
LinkedIn’s total revenues for 2021 came at around $14.74 billion, and while this is a spare change compared to what companies like Facebook make ($116.6 in 2022), it’s still a hefty sum.
Curiously, the company is making more money from premium subscriptions than ad money, which shows that advertisers aren’t too keen on marketing on the platform.
If you were wondering, LinkedIn charges $29.99/month for a Learning account, $39.99/month for a standard Premium Career subscription, $59.99/month for a Premium Business subscription, and $99.99/month for a Sales Navigator subscription.
There are several other subscriptions like Sales Navigator Team ($149.99/month), Sales Navigator Enterprise (custom price), Recruiter Lite ($2,399/year), and Recruiter ($8,999/year).
Suffice it to say that LinkedIn doesn’t play around with its subscription packages.
I’ll go through each of them below and give you a general description of each one:
- LinkedIn Learning ($29.99/month) – You get access to an educational platform with over 16,000 courses that teach you new skills in various industries
- Premium Career ($39.99/month) – You get 5 inMail credits per month, access to Applicants Insights, Salary Insights, LinkedIn Learning, you become a Featured Applicant, and you can see everyone who visits your profile in the last 90 days
- Premium Business ($59.99/month) – 15 inMail credits per month, unlimited people browsing, access to Business Insights, LinkedIn Learning, and you can see everyone who visits your profile in the last 90 days
- Sales Navigator Core ($99.99/month) – 50 inMail credits per month, access to Advanced search filters, real-time insights and alerts, automated Lead recommendations, and the ability to create custom lists for Lead personalization
- Sales Navigator Advanced ($149.99/month) – 50 inMail credits per month, ability to save up to 5,000 leads, all benefits from Navigator Core, notes, job change alerts, smart links, reporting and admin functionality, prospect and company news alerts, and more
- Sales Navigator Advanced Plus ($1,600+/year) – everything from Navigator Core and Advanced plus real-time contact updates, team link, and advanced CRM integration
- Recruiter Lite (2,399/year) – 30 inMail credits per month, access to 20 Advanced search filters, unlimited people browsing, Smart Suggestions, access to candidate tracking, seamless management of hiring data
- Recruiter ($8,999/year) – 150 inMail credits per month, ability to send up to 25 bulk messages, access to 40 advanced search filters and collaboration tools (message share, notes sharing, multi-user dashboard), ability to integrate the account with other LinkedIn tools, advanced reports on recruiter usage and pipeline analytics
Now you understand why LinkedIn is making all the money it makes from premium subscriptions. That’s because even businesses are paying for premium tools when looking for new hires.
Employees or employers, all meet on LinkedIn, and the right meeting costs money.
Still, LinkedIn’s biggest source of revenue comes from several other avenues, including:
- Talent Solutions
- Learning & Development
- Marketing Solutions
You can read more about them in the link I provided above.
It’s pretty clear to me that LinkedIn is pulling its weight as part of the Microsoft family of apps. Not so much as revenue goes but as synergy when it comes to providing data to the rest of the Microsoft apps.
Think about it, Microsoft is a business-centric company, and LinkedIn is the the social network for business. It couldn’t get any better.
And as far as data on the user goes, LinkedIn has some of the most detailed datasets on entrepreneurs, companies, and professionals in the world.
Microsoft, a company that offers both B2B and B2C products/services, now had the world’s leading B2B-centric social network under its heel.
I’m going to say that Microsoft recouped its investment in LinkedIn in more ways than one.
But it’s time we moved on to the next section. Keep reading to see what it’s about!
LinkedIn’s Global Annual EBITDA from 2019 to 2021
Let me explain what the annual EBITDA is first. The term stands for “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.“
It’s a company’s net income before any accounting comes into play, and many consider it to be a very reliable factor in assessing a company’s financial health and baseline profitability.
Below, I’ll include LinkedIn’s EBITDA from 2019 to 2021:
|2020||$315.74 million (-60,54% from last year)|
|2021||$1.253 billion (+296.84% from last year)|
As you can see, the 2019-2021 period was pretty hectic for LinkedIn. Their EBITDA went down by 60.54% in 2020, a decline that was most likely caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many businesses were affected worldwide and the global economy suffered a great deal.
However, what we see next is a rebound, an increase of over 296% in earnings. If I were to guess, I’d say that this was caused by the post-pandemic economic recovery.
Many individuals and businesses resumed operations, which in turn bumped up LinkedIn’s revenue streams.
There’s also the matter of remote work and online networking, two phenomena that kicked in full force during the isolation period of the pandemic.
People were effectively forced to work from home and conduct their businesses remotely.
Does this sound familiar? That’s because LinkedIn is the best online professional networking platform in the world.
The pandemic effectively transformed LinkedIn from a fairly popular tool to an indispensable asset for many businesses and entrepreneurs.
LinkedIn also introduced new features and services in 2021 which also led to a new stream of premium customers.
Next, we’ll be looking at LinkedIn’s costs and expenses from 2019 to 2022.
LinkedIn Annual Costs & Expenses 2019 – 2022
To truly assess whether LinkedIn is profitable or not, we should also take a look at its annual costs and expenses. And fortunately, Statista has the right chart for us. See below:
|Year||Costs & Expenses|
|2020||7.76 billion (+30.42% from last year)|
|2021||9.04 billion (+16.49% from last year)|
|2022||9.79 billion (+9.79% from last year)|
It seems that LinkedIn is spending obscene amounts of money per year, and those costs have gone up by 64.53% in just 3 years (from 2019 to 2022).
However, LinkedIn still managed to pull off a profit. As evident in the chart provided in the previous section, the company had an EBITDA of $1.253 billion in 2021.
This means that, despite having expenses worth $9.04 billion, the company’s revenue was over $10 billion in order to make over a billion in EBITDA.
According to official sources, LinkedIn’s yearly revenue surpassed the $10 billion mark and increased by 27% from the previous year.
Moreover, the company’s advertising sector also surpassed $1 billion in revenue in Q4 2021 for the first time ever, with an increase of 94% year over year.
But the big question remains. Did Microsoft recoup its $26 billion investment in LinkedIn? Well, even though I couldn’t find all the data from 2017 onward, it’s highly unlikely they did, monetarily speaking.
But what matters is that LinkedIn is profitable, and it’s making Microsoft more and more money with each coming year.
If 2021 is anything to look at, the company made a whopping $1.253 billion in EBITDA. Granted, that’s before any taxes and interests are applied.
But the operational expenses are included in the EBITDA. That’s a very healthy financial situation, judging by these numbers.
I have one last thing to show you and then we’re done, promise. In the last section, I’ll talk about LinkedIn’s ad revenue worldwide from 2017 to 2026, a prospective analysis if you will.
LinkedIn’s Advertising Revenue Worldwide 2017 – 2026
We’re nearly done. All that’s left to do is look at LinkedIn’s worldwide advertising revenue from 2017 to 2026, which is a prospective analysis 4 years into the future (the data I have is from April 2022).
I’m using Statista for this one:
|Year||Ad Revenue||% Increase|
|2018||$2.1 billion||+ 20%|
|2019||$2.51 billion||+ 19.51%|
|2020||$3 billion||+ 19.52%|
|2021||$3.82 billion||+ 27.33%|
|2022||$4.4 billion||+ 15.18%|
|2023||$5.06 billion||+ 15%|
|2024||$5.82 billion||+ 15.01%|
|2025||$6.7 billion||+ 15.12%|
|2026||$7.71 billion||+ 15.07%|
Based on my research, LinkedIn didn’t make any advertising revenue before being bought by Microsoft. Or if it did, that data is not available online.
Starting in 2017, it’s clear that Microsoft invested heavily in its advertising venture. By 2023 alone, it’s estimated to make around $5 billion in revenue from ads alone.
By 2026, based on Statista’s fairly reasonable estimations, LinkedIn will make around $7.7 billion in revenue from ad marketing.
That’s a pretty big number, but remember, the company’s expenses rounded up to $9.79 in 2022 alone.
It’s unlikely that they’ll manage to cover up their expenses through the ad marketing sector in the near future but if the % increases we’re seeing for 2023-2026 are anything to go by, that should eventually happen a few years down the line.
Unless operational expenses increase at a faster rate, of course. Which isn’t unlikely for a company of LinkedIn’s scale.
After looking at all the data, I’ll say that LinkedIn was so-so before being acquired by Microsoft. Post-acquirement, the company turned over a new leaf and began making the “big bucks“.
Even though I haven’t found LinkedIn’s income/loss figures between 2017-2019, I should safely assume that the company operated on a profit.
At the very least, we know that the company’s revenue surpassed the $1 billion mark in 2017, immediately after Microsoft bought LinkedIn.
However, LinkedIn never increased its income as much as the company did prior to being bought by Microsoft.
In 2017, the company registered a 24.57% increase in revenue, and then the % increase kept diminishing for the most part.
LinkedIn had the biggest increases in revenue in 2011 and 2012, followed by sharp drops until 2018 when it finally regained some footing.
It seems that Microsoft didn’t necessarily bring sweeping changes to the platform to increase its revenue in a short time.
However, it did keep the revenue increases consistent, for the most part. What did change, however, was the profit that LinkedIn brought over after all the taxes and expenses are accounted for.
That’s about all I can say about LinkedIn’s finances. I hope you’ve learned something useful from this guide and I’ll see you on the next one!
- News LinkedIn – Earnings
- Daze Info – LinkedIn Revenue by Quarter: Q1 2009 – Q2 2020
- Statista – Revenues Generated by LinkedIn from 2019 to 2021, by Segment
- Business Strategy Hub – LinkedIn Business Model (2022)| How Does LinkedIn Make Money?
- Statista – Global Annual EBITDA of LinkedIn from 2019 to 2021
- Statista – Annual Costs and Expenses Generated by LinkedIn from 2019 to 2022
- News LinkedIn – LinkedIn Business Highlights from Microsoft’s FY21 Q4 Earnings
- Statista – LinkedIn’s Advertising Revenue Worldwide from 2017 to 2026