Is LinkedIn the new Boston Chicken?

Amazingly, there were no big non-business stories yesterday to divert our attention while the broad markets were gently eroding in the background, as they had done the past week.

Forget about the cosmetically insignificant increases every now and then, those were really illusory. But we’ve been so occupied with the shock and awe of the stories that have unfolded over the last two weeks that we haven’t really even noticed the slow meltdown.

At least the stories were more entertaining than substantive. I’m at the stage that I really don’t want to process the meaning of real impactful kind of news anymore.

For one, I’m happy to see this month’s option cycle come to an end today. I’m excited to start over again on Monday. I did get to sell some more British Petroleum options that expire today, but at a return of less than 0.5%. Normally, at higher volatility times, it would have been 1% for a single day right near the strike price.

Even though my options related income was about 2.8% for the month, my shares underperformed the overall market, thanks to Goldman Sachs, Hewlett Packard, Freeport McMoran, Rio Tinto and Mosaic.

Before you say in that sarcastic tone of yours, “Hey, that’s picking them, Sparky”, or something hurtful like, “You want me to buy your book on successful stock trading, why?”,  just remember that not too surprisingly, those were the very same companies that propelled the numbers forward the previous month.

But here we are. Bin Laden is out of mind, at least until he floats down the Mississippi, Strauss-Kahn is behind bars until sometime this morning and Rajaratnam is prepping for the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

So yesterday’s lone big story was the very successful IPO launch of LinkedIn.

Imagine that.

I have no clue what LinkedIn actually does, although I do have an account. By the same token, I’ve had a Facebook account for years, but no friends.

If you knew me, you’d understand.

By all accounts, none of the talking heads I heard yesterday on CNBC and my new friend, Fox Business, seemed to really understand what LinkedIn actually did.

But you can’t sneeze at 100 million users, although who knows how many of them are like me?

No, I don’t mean an unemployed consultant. I mean someone who has no clue what LinkedIn does and is not likely to spring for any “premium services”.

Before I even consider bad-mouthing LinkedIn, as full disclosure, I own the domain which is in its early stages, looking for angel investors. ChainedIn is a social media network for white collar criminals who someday will be seeking to re-enter the workplace.

Have you noticed that there seem to be more and more of those kind of guys each day? as a derivitive play, I suggest companies that manufacture security video equipment.

But with an original $33 IPO price, jacked up to $45 last night, LinkedIn opened at $83 and went north of $100, finally settling at $93 or so. Since I didn’t have any shares, I didn’t really feel compelled to come up with the actual price at the closing bell.

Given that more than 3 times the float exchanged hands yesterday, there’s probably a pretty strong base at $85. Not bad, and that should give it price stability for a while, or at least until it’s realized that there’s no real revenue coming from people like me.

Options on LinkedIn will start trading on May 27th, so it will be intersting to see what kind of reward opportunities there’ll be in those premiums.

As the price gapped upward the skeptics asked whether this was the sure sign that the bubble was upon us. Other asked if LinkedIn was yesterday’s Netscape, having had a similarly spectacular debut.

But how quickly the market forgets about the Netscapes of the world.

Boston ChickenMind you, if you look closely at trading patterns, the market doesn’t even remember news from 10 minutes ago, much less the IPO of Boston Chicken in 1993.

Boston Chicken, a decidedly non high tech stock climbed 143% that first day. That put LinkedIn to shame.

And then it Netscaped.

Ultimately, McDonald’s bought it, renamed it Boston Market and now their menus are too complicated for people like me to casually wander in and get something to eat.

Boston Chicken, in fact, has been so thoroughly cleansed from our existence, that not even the all powerful Google search engine could come up with an example of its logo. They may as well named it Ozymandias.

I did find a copy of an original stock certificate, though.

What did Boston Chicken, Netscape and LinkedIn all have in common?

Right. Individual investors got nothing. No allocations. Nothing.

Boston Chicken is completely eradicated, Netscape is making its way to that special burial ground as AOL’s red haired step-child, and LinkedIn is pretending like it’s going to be different?

No sock puppets in LinkedIn’s future.

But let’s look critically at the real differences.

LinkedIn takes advantage of real advances it corporate names. It uses two words, but presents them as one. But more importantly, it uses capitol letters for each of those words. It wasn’t NetScape and it wasn’t BostonChicken.

See the difference?

No? Doesn’t matter. The euphoria will be around for a while and will certainly speed up some more IPO’s in correctly named social media.

Who knows, as desperation for opportunities increases, maybe even Friendster will come public, as Facebook continues to play it coy.

But after a spate of questionable Chinese IPO’s and lots more on the docket, it’s not all rosy.

So it sent a message when I saw that E*Trade was one of the co-managers of the AIG IPO, which is neither an IPO nor a secondary offering.

It’s been redubbed a “re-IPO”.

Since I hold 0.002% of the current IPO float, yet wasn’t important enough to be pitched the re-IPO on Tuesday, when Ben Mosche addressed the big boys, I’m a little concerned that E*Trade is a co-manager of the sale.

Obviously, this won’t be quite as hot as LinkedIn or Netscape. It definitely won’t be as hot as Boston Chicken, which was equally tasty served cold.

As I wonder what to do with my AIG shares, considering that there doesn’t appear to be too much of a market for more shares, I’m somewhat comforted by the thought that so many of the experts are already using today’s LinkedIn performance to parallel the top of the market in 2000.

They all seem to believe that the bubble is about to pop.

And why shouldn’t they? Crazed trading today, crappy Chinese IPO’s and a former scion of the Dow about to be shown no love.

All we need is one more sign. A TIME Magazine cover story touting the beginning of the bubble, together with all of the other signs, speak to a continued strong bull run.

Come Monday, that means averaging down on Goldman, Freeport, Rio Tinto, Mosaic and even HP.

LinkedIn? Maybe, but only with the proceeds from ChainedIn.

Interested, my Angel?