LinkedIn Said to Plan Data Personalization of Pulse App

LinkedIn Corp. is updating its Pulse news-reader application to serve content based on users’ professional data, as mobile products become central to the company’s strategy.

The new version of Pulse, which LinkedIn acquired last year for $90 million, is set to leverage information on a person’s career history, seniority and connections to show more relevant articles, said Ryan Roslansky, the company’s director of content product management. The Mountain View, California-based company is planning to release the update in the third quarter, said people with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

LinkedIn is focused on improving its mobile applications as more than 41 percent of its traffic comes from smartphones and tablets -- and that percentage is rising. The social-networking company is betting that professional necessity will help its news app stand out from competitors, such as Flipboard Inc. and Facebook Inc.’s Paper app.

“If you want to read content specific to your professional world, that’s where the Pulse app is going to win,” said Ankit Gupta, co-founder of Pulse and a senior product manager at LinkedIn, who declined to comment on the specifics of the release. “Mobile is a hugely important part of the company right now.”

Martha Stewart

LinkedIn has prioritized adding content to become a daily destination for users and not just when they’re looking for a job. It has enlisted business celebrities including Martha Stewart and Arianna Huffington to publish as “influencers” on its site. By the end of the year, all LinkedIn users will be able to publish content. The company also added 30 new content channels -- such as one focused on residential real estate -- in the last week, drawing from more than 1 million publishers.

The more time that users spend on LinkedIn, the more the company can reap advertising and recruiting services services. LinkedIn, whose shares have more than quadrupled since the company’s 2011 initial public offering, is headed for its fifth straight quarter of decelerating sales growth, based on its forecast that first-quarter revenue will be $455 million to $460 million. The company didn’t disclose mobile revenue, but anticipates more than half of its traffic will come from mobile devices this year.

The News

Social networks have started relying more on news to drive activity. Facebook in the last few months has added a “trending topics” section and altered its algorithm to prioritize high-quality news content. In February, it released Paper, a magazine-like mobile app for browsing news as well as updates from Facebook friends. Flipboard, a news reading application, this month acquired competitor Zite from CNN. Twitter Inc. has said it is trying to make it easier for casual users to discover content.

Pulse is part of LinkedIn’s strategy to have applications for different purposes so that it can capture attention on small mobile devices, Gupta said.

“The flagship LinkedIn app has a little bit of everything, but for specific use cases it’s really better to have a focused app,” he said. “In a couple of seconds you need to get the value across to the user.”

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