After a strong decade, LinkedIn CEO gracefully departs

February 6, 2020, 1:32 PM UTC

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In all my years of covering business people, I’ve never witnessed someone with a cleaner desk than LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s. I noted this in my 2014 profile of him, a piece that focused on how he translated meticulous career planning into an art form that proved surprisingly germane to his current gig. I visited him recently at his San Francisco office, which is probably easier to keep clean because he doesn’t use it every day, and he hasn’t grown messier with age. 

Weiner gives careerism a good name. When he took a hiatus in 2008 from having a real job—leaving a flailing Yahoo and not having yet joined a fledgling LinkedIn—he parked at not one but two venture-capital firms, Accel and Greylock. He achieved such success leading LinkedIn that the company’s founder, Reid Hoffman, called him a “late-stage founder.” His timing was great again when he and Hoffman sold out to Microsoft in 2016 for $26 billion.  

Weiner announced Monday that he’s stepping down in June as CEO and stepping up as executive chairman. Asked by LinkedIn journalist and former Fortune star Jessi Hempel why now, Weiner responded, as he often does, with a list of three reasons: LinkedIn’s brand has never been stronger, the future of the company is in good hands with his successor and longtime protégé Ryan Roslansky, and it’s a good time for him personally. 

It is certainly a good time for LinkedIn. Annual revenues are $7.5 billion, up from just over $2 billion five years ago. Microsoft recently disclosed that LinkedIn is growing at a 26% clip, not bad for an aged Internet company and better than Microsoft overall. (The company announced other executive moves yesterday, by the way.) 

As for Weiner, just as he has now shown a generation how to amiably advance in their careers, he’s about to show the not-quite-over-the-hill set how to age gracefully. He turns 50 in a couple of weeks, and his LinkedIn profile reflects a cornucopia of interests, from his own investment fund (“Next Play” is a favorite expression) to board seats to preaching the virtues of entrepreneurialism. 

Adam Lashinsky

Twitter: @adamlashinsky


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.


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Aaron Pressman

On Twitter: @ampressman


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