LinkedIn Rallying 126% By Olivia Oran LinkedIn IPO story updated with late-afternoon trading price. NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- LinkedIn(LNKD_) shares soared more than 126% to $102 in late afternoon trading Thursday, as investors clamored for a piece of one of the first social networking firms to hit the public markets. Shares of the business-oriented social network opened at $83 -- double what it was priced at late Wednesday -- on its first day of trading on the NYSE. LinkedIn sold 7.8 million shares, or 8% of the company, netting it $351 million. The company priced its shares at $45, the high end of its expected range. It's now valued at nearly $10 billion -- far above the $2.5 billion it commanded in the secondary markets just a few weeks ago. While some tech watchers are hoping that LinkedIn's public offering will open the floodgates for a series of splashy tech IPOs including those of highly-valued social upstarts like Facebook and Zynga, it's more likely that today's offering will instead act as an important barometer of investor enthusiasm for Web 2.0 firms, helping other pre-IPO Internet companies gauge their worth in the public markets. "Facebook and Groupon are definitely interested in following this," said Wesley Paul, a partner at Michelman & Robinson who works in the firm's corporate and securities department. Given the scarcity of tech IPOs due to a variety of factors including lessons learned during the dot- com bust, LinkedIn's IPO represents somewhat of a turning point for the tech sector. The Web 2.0 firm has already commanded lots of early-stage investor interest. Shares of LinkedIn were trading at $12 as of July 2009 on secondary market SharesPost, and crept up to $31 as of March. The firm raised the expected price range of its IPO by 30% on Tuesday in response to a surge in investor demand, to $42 to $45 a share, up from $32 to $35 a share. While LinkedIn is profitable -- it posted $15 million in profit on sales of $243 million last year -- Francis Gaskins, president of IPO Desktop, pointed out a couple things in the firm's filing that investors should note. Due to investments in R&D, sales and marketing that the firm plans to make this year, LinkedIn actually expects to lose money over the next few quarters. "It's very odd for an IPO -- especially one that's in demand -- to be able to come and do that," Gaskins told TheStreet.
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