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Launched in 2003, the five founders invited 300 contacts to become members and wound up with 4,500 by the end of the month. By year end, more than 80,000 members were linked in, and six years later there were more than 35 million members in 200 countries. In 2016, LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft.
A major feature of LinkedIn is its groups, enabling anyone to start a group based on an association or industry topic. For example, there are tens of thousands of academic and corporate groups that enable alumni and employees to stay in touch. LinkedIn members request an invitation to the group and can receive postings by other members via email.
Starting in 2005, paid premium services were added for dedicated users such as recruiters and researchers that are based on monthly transactions. For example, the service level determines usage limitations such as the number of results per search, number of daily or weekly alerts and number of requests for introductions.