Case study: LinkedIn

LinkedIn launched Incubator last year to encourage employee-led innovation. Once a quarter, staff can pitch ideas to the executive staff, including chief executive Jeff Weiner.


So far, three Incubators have taken place and seven projects approved. One project is Hopscotch. A primary challenge for software developers is making sure people understand how to use their products. Ideally, user interfaces should be intuitive for people to understand without external guidance. But, as sites grow and features become numerous, unassisted discovery of these features is not always possible. A framework for making in-context product tours, Hopscotch can be used to introduce a newly released feature or provide a step-by-step explanation on a help topic.

Another approved idea, EatIn Suite, is a platform that lets LinkedIn staff rate and comment on the food provided by the company. It consists of three web services, two web apps, and two mobile apps.

If an idea is approved, the team gets to spend up to three months turning their idea into reality, with access to company resources and mentorship from LinkedIn’s ranks.

“The programme provides a way to take intelligent risks with the full support of the company. We see Incubator projects as small investments that have the potential to become big wins for the company,” says Jim Brikman, staff software engineer.


Secret Marketer

Keeping up with the Kirks in technology innovation

David Coveney

I am fascinated by TV programmes and films that depict what the world will be like in the future – Star Trek-style health monitors, flying cars and the like. Given the way that technology has developed exponentially, it is perhaps surprising that real-life innovation has not kept up with our imaginations.