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Wall Street Journal working on 'LinkedIn killer'

LONDON - The Wall Street Journal is to launch its own social network called WSJ Connect to rival the professionals' community LinkedIn, according to reports.

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News Corporation's flagship title is looking to snap up some of LinkedIn's 15m or so monthly visitors - recruiting Slingshot Labs to develop a website where professionals can create business contacts, search for jobs or find potential clients.

WSJ Connect - known as "LinkedIn Killer" internally, according to TechCrunch - is still in the planning stages, but there is said to be strong interest to move the project forward.

The newspaper dabbled in social networking last year when it launched WSJ Community - a portal for subscribers and non-subscribers to share and discuss news stories, which has about 40,000 members - a disappointing tally, compared to LinkedIn's 43m member base.

The Wall Street Journal could use WSJ Connect to lure new readers to pay for an online subscription, although initial proposals see WSJ Connect as a free service.

Slingshot Labs, part of News Corp's research and development arm - most recently rolled out, an entertainment news site catering to a celebrity-obsessed audience, which has been a notable success in a saturated market.

WSJ Connect will have its work cut out in a relatively small market, which is dominated by LinkedIn in the US and Xing across Europe - but there is room for expansion, especially at an international level.

Xing, based out of Hamburg and Europe's most popular professionals social network, has only about 7.5m members.

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