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An Activist Investor at LinkedIn? Not So Fast.

Reid Hoffman still owns the majority of voting power at LinkedIn.

Photo illustration: John Paczkowski / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

LinkedIn’s stock price, which took a massive tumble following its latest earnings report in April, is rebounding quite nicely this week amid rumors that an activist investor has eyes on the company.

Some reports suggest well-known activist Carl Icahn may make a run at LinkedIn; the stock is up over 9 percent this week as a result.

But there are a few things to note about LinkedIn’s current setup that may impact whether or not an activist truly makes a play. The first is that LinkedIn’s stock isn’t cheap. Unlike Twitter, whose recent struggles have seen the stock dip to around $37 — well below its closing price on its first day of trading 18 months ago — LinkedIn is still pretty expensive at more than $213 a pop.

Perhaps more importantly is LinkedIn’s stock structure, which divides company shares into two classes. Its Class B stock, which was awarded to pre-IPO stockholders, has ten times the voting power of the Class A stock an activist investor would need to buy.

It’s a common strategy used by other public companies like Facebook and Google to ensure that outsiders like Carl Icahn can’t come in and gain control of a company’s board. In fact, in LinkedIn’s case, founder Reid Hoffman has more than 54 percent of the voting power at the company. So any activist investor will have to go through him.

None of this means an activist couldn’t buy a lot of stock to make a public stink and stir things up. The rumors alone helped buoy LinkedIn’s stock, so there are still plenty of ways to influence Wall Street. But actually making a change internally at LinkedIn? That doesn’t look as easy.

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