Taking LinkedIn head-on, The Wall Street Journal will launch a social networking website aimed at professionals. Rupert Murdoch owned News Corp. has announced that the new network would be targetted at finance professionals and will be an extension of the WSJ website.

At an investor day meet in New York, CEO of Dow Jones, Lex Fenwick showed off the company’s plan of turning WSJ into a platform where users do more than just read news. The soon-to-be-launched feature will be called the “WSJ Profile” with an aim to provide a platform for Dow Jones customers to discuss financial matters.

“If you build applications and become a platform, it does lots of magical things that help us,” Fenwick said. “It increases the customer stickiness and it means the customer spends longer on the site then he or she previously was. It allows targeted advertising as you start to understand more about your customer, what their interests are and what they may care about.”

The mock-up seems very LinkedIn-like

The mock-up seems very LinkedIn-like

The mock-up of the profile shown during the meet contains of a section to fill in contact information, bio, education and work experience. The sections seem similar to LinkedIn, but with an added messaging platform that would include user research, blogs and portfolios. “We will be able to build a network of like-minded people around the world, into a community,” said Fenwick.

The social networking website is all set to be launched in a few weeks, but it isn’t quite clear if this would be a limited-release only, or a full-fledged one. This, incidentally, is not the first time News Corp. will be dabbling in the world of social networking. It had a disastrous outing in this space with the MySpace acquisition back in 2005 for a staggering $580 million. The company ended up selling it to Specific Media in June 2011 for a paltry sum of $35 million. In 2008, WSJ also tried to kick off a business-focussed forum called Journal Community that is still alive, but barely so.

Given their poor track record at managing and growing a huge networked comuunity it seems like a huge risk for WSJ and News Corp. to take right now. Add to that the ever growing privacy concerns when it comes to the social networking space and News Corp's 'News of the World' phone hacking scandal it  remains to be seen whether businesses and financial customers will be willing to share a whole lot of information on the new platform.

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