Linkedin, the fast-growing social network for professionals, is considering a flotation, it was confirmed yesterday.
The Californian company claims to have more than 85 million members across the world, including more than 4m in the UK.
Sources claimed the business has selected financial underwriters for its plans to go public in 2011.
These include Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and JP Morgan, according to the sources. Bankers made their pitches to the privately-held company in November, one of the sources said.
A spokeswoman for the company told the Yorkshire Post: "We don't comment on speculation. An IPO is one of many tactics that we could choose to pursue. We are focused on building our business and doing what is in the best long-term interest of LinkedIn members and shareholders."
Internet companies such as LinkedIn and Zynga, a popular maker of online social games, are considering offerings well ahead of a potential IPO of Facebook, two sources said.
"Some of these companies want to go public because they want to beat Facebook and others out," said one of the sources. "If Facebook went public before Linkedin, do you think anyone would pay that much attention to Linkedin? You might want to surpass the beast."
Facebook is not expected to file for a public offering until late 2012, but that timetable could accelerate if regulators decide the company has passed a threshold on the number of investors permitted for private companies.
Meanwhile, Yorkshireman Patrick Crane, vice president for marketing at LinkedIn for four years, has now left the business.