Tomahawk, WI 5/19/2011 (PennyPayDay) -- There was an unmistakable echo of the dot-com boom Thursday on Wall Street.
LinkedIn, a trailblazer in the online networking craze, went public with a roaring stock offering. Within minutes, shares were trading at twice the value set by the company.
Buyers crowded the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and financial news networks flashed LinkedIn's stock price urgently all day. By the closing bell, the company had a market value of $9 billion, the highest for any Internet company since Google had its initial public offering seven years ago. Millionaires and even one billionaire were made, at least on paper.
The stock, issued at $45, went as high as $122.70 just before noon and closed at $94.25 on a trading volume of 30 million shares. All this for a company that skeptics say amounts to an online Rolodex, a place on the Internet for professionals to post resumes and connect with one another and potential employers.
It was enough to remind some people on Wall Street of the heady late 1990s and the debuts of companies like Netscape Communications -- and, more infamously, long-forgotten names like Pets.com and Webvan. Investors wondered whether LinkedIn will be a precursor to another financial frenzy in Silicon Valley.
"I definitely think this will be a catalyst," said longtime technology investor and analyst Michael Moe, CEO of Global Silicon Valley Asset Management. "Investors who like growth stocks have been stuck in a desert for a long time, and now it's like they have found this great pitcher of water."
LinkedIn is already worth $9 billion, or 18 times its projected revenue this year. Major Internet companies, including Google, trade at an average of about five times projected revenue, according to an analysis by Capital IQ.