Jean-Luc Vaillant

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Doing a session on the architecture of LinkedIn.




Country of origin: France

Year came to U.S.: 1996

Education: MS Computer Science, University of Marseille; Post-graduate degree, Network Engineering, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications

Business: LinkedIn (2003)

Headquarters: Mountain View, CA

2015 revenue: $3 billion (purchased by Microsoft in 2016)

Worldwide employment: >19,000

  • Vaillant came to the United States on a work visa after being interviewed and hired over the phone.

  • He helped create several social networking and social media sites including and LinkedIn.

“Who doesn’t dream of creating a whole new world?” asked Jean-Luc Vaillant in a 2010 interview. “As soon as I set foot in [Silicon] Valley, I felt that I had to be part of what this place was really about: new entrepreneurial endeavors.”

Jean-Luc Vaillant was ardently searching for a way to come to the United States. His good fortune came when he applied for a specialized job posted on the Internet. He was interviewed and hired over the phone. With a work visa in hand, he arrived in 1996 and began what was to be a sterling career in social networking and social media.

WorldsAway, the company that hired him, built virtual communities. But it “wasn’t [my] thing to work for an established company.” Instead, he sought to build up companies based on new concepts in social networking, which match people to one another and facilitate their ability to connect.

So he joined (eventually and, according to his LinkedIn profile, helped build “the best dating matching system IMHO” (in my humble opinion). But he remained a nomad. By 2002, he had worked for five companies in seven years before joining the gang of buddies that was to start LinkedIn.

Launched in 2003 with just 4,500 members, LinkedIn today operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 756 million accounts in more than 200 countries and territories. It counts executives from all Fortune 500 companies as its members, and its corporate hiring solutions are used by three-quarters of the Fortune 100 companies. In June 2016, Microsoft announced plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

The report Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Innovation in the U.S. High-Tech Sector provides more information on foreign-born founders in tech.

Updated July 2022