LinkedIn’s R&D unit in India becomes largest outside US

Ayushi Kar / Thomas K Thomas Mumbai | Updated on December 02, 2020 Published on December 02, 2020

Ajay Datta, Head of India Product, LinkedIn

Researchers in Bengaluru centre leading future product development for global market

Microsoft-owned professional networking platform LinkedIn’s research and development centre in India is now the largest unit for the company outside the US. The engineers at the R&D unit in Bengaluru are now leading some major new product development for LinkedIn’s global market.

“Outside the US, India is the biggest R&D centre and going forward I see this centre going leaps and bound. We are building products to create communities with a global outlook,” Ajay Datta, Head of India Product, LinkedIn, told BusinessLine. “India is one of the biggest talent hubs, and we have seen across products, AI, engineering, product management. That is why we are investing so much in India, and we continue to bring in bigger and meatier charters into the country.”

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The journey to make India one of the R&D hubs for LinkedIn was set in motion in 2016 by then CEO Jeff Weiner. Three new products were launched in 2016 that were built from scratch at the India unit. LinkedIn Placements, Startup Packs, and LinkedIn Lite. These products are now at a global scale.

“Our vision is to create economic opportunity for every world member of the work force. So 70 per cent of our traffic today is coming from international markets,outside the US. And that has been one of the big levers, of why we need to create an R&D presence in a market that is international. What we started building here in India are multiple charters of products and the idea here was to build the Centre of Excellency here so that we can build global products,” says Datta, who has been leading development of these products in India.

Last year, the Communities product catalogue came to the Bengaluru R&D Centre from LinkedIn headquarters, and events, and now virtual events are being built out of India. This platform has become a huge success especially with many professionals working from home during the pandemic. Globally, 7 million members have attended virtual events on LinkedIn following the launch of events in early 2020. Events hosted by LinkedIn Pages are now 70 per cent of total events created on the platform since March.

“There has been a tremendous success with Events. and hopefully it is one of the products we will come out with as we focus on communities,” says Datta.

Gaining traction

These products are also helping LinkedIn gain traction in India as well. India has become one of the top 5 countries creating virtual events witnessing a 4X growth since March. The platform is being used by companies to hold some big virtual events. Infosys, for example, held a 10,000 plus attendee event for students all over India.

“Overall, LinkedIn has added 10 per cent users in India this year itself. So we are at 71 million users now, of which 7 million have just came in 2020 and these are predominantly coming from tier 2 and tier 3 audiences. So we are growing phenomenally fast,” says Datta.

Launching these products first in India has also helped LinkedIn learn and adapt them for global market. “For instance, Linkedin Lite was launched to deal with poor Internet network availability in India. Guess what, worldwide people prefer something that opens faster and we learnt that the experience that we build for that speed is not only relevant in India but also relevant worldwide. One of the biggest learning has been translation of product features,” says Datta. “Similarly, on Startup Packs and LinkedIn Placements, we are learning in terms of pricing and what kind of product works for students etc,” he added.

Pandemic impact

Datta and his team in Bengaluru are now focused on addressing the challenges that has come about in work environment due to the pandemic.

“The world of work is changing in front of us. This world of work will require people to look for more ways to get connected with each other. So, how do you build a platform that enables higher engagement in a community of like-minded professionals. That to me is the biggest area of focus for us,” said Datta.

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Published on December 02, 2020
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