Jeff Weiner has been LinkedIn's wise and fearless leader for eleven years, and he will soon be moving on from the CEO post. Fortunately, he will not be far away as he takes on the role of LinkedIn's executive chairman. It will be Ryan Roslansky, currently head of product, who will be stepping into the chief executive spot while Tomer Cohen takes over product head.
These are the first significant changes to the social networking site since Microsoft bought it for $26.2 billion in 2016. ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ has been MS’s CEO Satya Nadella's motto for LinkedIn and it has served the software provider well. Under Weiner's leadership, the platform enjoyed a period of accelerated growth and broadening out of its revenue streams – including advertising, memberships, recruitment initiatives, and a mobile-ready site - that all contributed to ways the site both engaged and monetized its user base. During this time, revenue rose from $78 million to more than $7.5 billion in the trailing twelve months. The site also grew from 33 million members in 2008 to over 675 million members.
During most of its time under Microsoft's ownership, LinkedIn has enjoyed a reasonable amount of autonomy from its parent company. Some are speculating the changes in upper management might mean the reins will be tightening as Weiner moves onto a role with less day-to-day responsibilities for the company. Ray Wang, the founder of Constellation Research, wondered whether "it's losing its independence." He believes the career networking site would "still be independent but [with] more hooks back" into Microsoft's core operation.
In a separate statement, Microsoft reported that the head of hardware, Panos Panay, would take over responsibility for the Windows user interface running on LinkedIn devices. At this point, Roslansky will report directly to Microsoft’s CEO in much the same way that Weiner did.
According to a recent blog post written by Weiner, he started discussing the move last summer. Weiner hired Roslansky in 2012 to lead LinkedIn's movement to content and introduced the influencer program and the implementation of sharing and publishing tools. "Ryan was the first hire I made after joining LinkedIn," said Weiner. "He has been essential to the company's success ever since: helping to build our marketing solutions business, championing the acquisition of Lynda.com, and co-developing our prioritization framework for the Microsoft integration."
Despite the changes to the senior leadership team, the choice in long-time LinkedIn veteran Ryan Roslansky as the new CEO appears to indicate a willingness to allow change to happen as it always has under Microsoft – slow and steady.
Roslansky will transition to his new role as CEO in June 2020.