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linkedin-reid-hoffmanShares of professional networking company LinkedIn are expected to start trading on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal and others.

LinkedIn’s initial public offering is interesting in and of itself, since it’s a prominent Silicon Valley company with investors (including Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners). And the IPO is being watched particularly closely because it’s the first of the current wave of social networking startups to go public, so it’s seen as a barometer for future Web 2.0 IPOs, including Facebook’s.

Analysts are optimistic about LinkedIn’s offering, but even if the response turns out to be lukewarm, that’s not necessarily catastrophic for other companies. Financial author Tom Taulli told the Journal that future offerings will likely shoot past LinkedIn’s.

“People get a lot of value out of using LinkedIn, but it doesn’t seem to carry the same pizzazz” as Faceboook or Groupon, Taulli said. “This won’t give us the best indication how crazy people might go over some these other deals.”

The company has priced its shares between $32 and $35, which would value the company at $3 billion, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It plans to list those shares on the New York Stock Exchange rather than the tech-centric NASDAQ, which is a bit of a coup for the NYSE.

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