LinkedIn's highly-anticipated initial public offering got off to a blazingly hot start on Thursday — so hot it spawned talk of another Wall Street tech bubble.
Shares in the social network, which were priced at $45, began trading at $83 per share on Wall Street, topping $90 during its first hour and peaking at $122 around midday before closing at $94.25.
That means the company, which had hoped to raise $4.2 billion in its IPO, is worth closer to $8.9 billion, at least on paper.
It also means that LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who was set to rake in $852 million at the $45 share price, is poised to make even more.
"You can’t read too much into these initial trades," Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn's chief executive, told CNBC. "It’s all about the fundamentals long term."
LinkedIn — which launched in 2005 — has grown to more than 100 million users.
Weiner added: "At the end of the day, it's not about the share price — it's about our continuing to execute."
Nonetheless, it appears that the social network is a hit with investors — and certainly the biggest IPO for a U.S. internet company since Google went public in 2004.
It's also a stunning early result for a company whose 2010 revenues were $243 million (turning a $15.4 million profit) — and one that is expected to lose money in 2012 as it attempts to grow.
"Social networks are clearly here to stay," Weiner said, dismissing the notion of another bubble. "The fundamentals of this group of companies is very different from late 90s and early 2000."
LinkedIn's rousing reception bodes well for Facebook, which has been targeting 2012 for an IPO. (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon and Zynga are the so-called "Big Five" social networks investors have been clamoring over.)
In secondary markets, where shares in Mark Zuckerberg's social network are currently traded, Facebook is said to be valued at roughly $79 billion.