It’s hardly surprising, at least in retrospect, that location-based social networking company Foursquare was founded (twice!) in New York City. Where else (at least in the United States) are there so many people with so many places to go and so many ways to get there? I’m not a social or environmental determinist, but clearly a startup needs hospitable conditions to thrive.
Having just started my new life as a citizen of Silicon Valley, I’ve quickly comprehended how it is the perfect birthplace for LinkedIn. Every introduction has been an exercise of triadic closure. Indeed, while most people know that the Bay Area is the world’s leading hub for technology startups, perhaps not everyone realizes that the foundation for this environment is the professional network that binds it. I’ve only been here for a week, and yet my world seems smaller by the day as I keep discovering new connections among my colleagues. It’s a lot of fun, if a bit overwhelming!
And fun but overwhelming is a great way to describe LinkedIn itself. It’s only been a few days since I updated my profile, but I already feel immersed in LinkedIn’s vibrant culture. I sit in an open office, surrounded by people I work with — data scientists, software engineers, product managers, designers, and more. And I’m already interviewing folks I might be working with soon — in a company growing as quickly as LinkedIn, it is everyone’s job to grow the team. I’ve joked to friends that moving west gave me three more hours to get work done — but I’m using them all and they’re not enough!
But despite this explosive growth, LinkedIn’s vision is shared and tight. We all know that our goal is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Having such a clear-cut mission enables us to directly relate all of our efforts and ambitions to the concrete value they create. It’s a great feeling, and it helps me keep my sanity as I observe the size of my ever-increasing to-do list.
To say that I’m still adjusting is an understatement. I haven’t made a change like this is over a decade, and this adventure feels even more immersive. But a big difference between now and 1999 is that I arrive in my new world with a network of people there to welcome me. I have LinkedIn to thank for helping me develop that network, and it’s great to finally have the opportunity to give back.