Cinco de Mayo holds a special place in our hearts here at LinkedIn. In addition to being an excuse to down margaritas and tacos, it marks the fifth anniversary of the day we launched LinkedIn: May 5, 2003. The web was a different place back then; Friendster was the hottest site around, terms like “Web 2.0″ and “AJAX” hadn’t yet been coined, web pages were still in black and white… Okay, maybe it wasn’t that long ago.

As both a company and a tool, LinkedIn has changed dramatically. Here’s a quick “then and now” comparison of LinkedIn ’03 and LinkedIn ’08:

May 2003 May 2008
Employees 10 278
Users 4,800 22,000,000+
Introductions Sent 280 7,000,000+
Recommendations Made 0 4,500,000+
Questions Answered 0 1,000,000+
Four Square Games Played 0 6,394

Note that many of the features present in LinkedIn today — including Recommendations, InMails, Groups Answers, and Jobs — hadn’t been built in May 2003. (But we were already thinking about most of them!)

I’ve also put together a small gallery of screenshots showing how LinkedIn has evolved through the years.  What will LinkedIn look like 5 years from now? 10 years from now? Only time will tell…

LinkedIn Home, 2003
LinkedIn Home, 2004
LinkedIn Home, 2005
LinkedIn Home, 2006
LinkedIn Home, 2007
LinkedIn through the years

And finally — as a bonus to anybody who read this far — here’s an easter egg from the old days.  Probably the last page I finished before the launch was our Founders page.  It took forever to get everyone’s bio together so, in the meantime, I wrote a few on my own.  We didn’t leave it this way for long, but here’s a screenshot for posterity.

LinkedIn Founders Page, May 2003LinkedIn Founders Page, May 2003