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LinkedIn Opens Company Profiles

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The grown-up social network just got a little more serious.

LinkedIn has now opened its site for companies to create profiles, giving members a snapshot overview of what the company is about and who works for it.

The feature launched with more than 160,000 profiles, ranging from Fortune 500 gargantuans like eBay to smaller enterprises, as well as charitable groups, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The profile pages display members information of the sort offered through directory services such as Redbooks and Hoovers -- fast facts like where the company is located, its size and revenue.

In typically LinkedIn fashion, the profiles also show members how many of the company's employees are in their network, who they are and where they work. It also gives insight into the interconnectedness of businesses by displaying which companies have the greatest overlaps among their employees' networks. Could be handy for job seekers, folks trying to gain contacts within a certain organization or even run some low-wattage corporate espionage.

All of this is to say that LinkedIn has again proved that the utility of the social Web does not lie solely in the incessant poking of Facebook friends or the adolescent expression of burgeoning individuality through a meth-inspired MySpace rant.

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