Internet company LinkedIn launched its initial public offering at $45 dollars per share on Thursday, making it the highest IPO for an American internet firm since Google. Prices surged to $83 on strong early demand. As AP reported:

LinkedIn’s stock is surging in its market debut, opening at $83 because of huge investor demand. The stock is up about 90 percent at $85 in its first minutes on the New York Stock Exchange.

LinkedIn Corp. priced its initial public offering at $45 per share, about a third above the initial range of $32 to $35 per share.

The Mountain View, Calif., company is the first major U.S. social networking company to go public. It had raised $353 million Wednesday night in an initial public offering that valued it at $4.3 billion. That’s the largest valuation for a U.S. Internet company since Google went public in 2004.

The company’s service helps businesses find new employees and promotes networking among the more than 102 million people that have set up profiles.

LinkedIn had originally set their IPO between $32 to $35 per share, but raised their initial target in the face of high demand from investors. As TechCruch explained:

LinkedIn is still offering a total of 7,840,000 shares and is looking to raise as much as $406 million in the offering. LinkedIn says it will use these funds from the offering for general corporate purposes, including working capital, sales and marketing activities, general and administrative matters and capital expenditures. The funds could also be used for acquisitions or investments in complimentary technologies.

The professional social network is set to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange this Thursday, under the symbol LNKD.

Clearly, LinkedIn is upping the price of the offering because its expects that Wall Street will respond to this increase positively. As we wrote yesterday, LinkedIn is growing revenue—the company just reported that Q1 revenue in 2011 was up 110 percent to $93.9 million. Net income increased to $2.08 million, from $1.81 million in Q1 2010. The increase in sales came from the company’s hiring solutions, a paid offering which helps recruiters search for professionals and list jobs on the site. But the question is whether LinkedIn can accelerate this revenue growth.

Some analysts have expressed concern that the high IPO does not match the company’s true value, given its size and projected revenues. As Melissa Bell reported:

I leave most business questions to my far more qualified colleagues in our business section, but I have to admit the deal is puzzling. Google would be a huge IPO, even back in 2004, because, well, we all use Google all of the time. But LinkedIn? It’s always struck me as being useful only when you don’t have a job.

I’m not alone in my confusion. Some have raised the specter of a rising “social media bubble,” suggesting the high values placed on companies like LinkedIn are too high.

Others, just don’t get the interest. “Really? They have new users?” a colleague wrote in a note to me. “Who still uses it? Why does it keep sending me e-mails?”

Ian Sigalow, a partner at the venture capital firm Greycroft Partners, said he finds the company “exceptional” and feels confident in the IPO, citing its growth over the past two years as one reason. We were in a recession for the past two years — of course people would turn to a professional job search Web site when jobs were hard to come by.

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