Pulse, a popular and free news reader in the Flipboard or Zite style, has been scooped up by LinkedIn, the newest shooting star in social media, for US $90 million.

 LinkedIn Moving Past Professional Connections

Buying Pulse is a LinkedIn rumor we had been following for the last month, and now that the deal has become official, we can see LinkedIn's overall plans with more clarity. Pulse has over 30 million users in more than 190 countries, and is distributed in nine languages.

"We are thrilled to be able to add Pulse's considerable talent, technology and products to our growing ecosystem of content offerings, and we believe that they will help us accelerate our ability to deliver to our members the insights they need to be better at what they do, on any device," Deep Nishar, LinkedIn SVP of products and user experience said in a statement.

LinkedIn will be the definitive professional publishing platform, Nishar said, adding that Pulse was the best option to make it a reality.

One of the main features LinkedIn no doubt had its eyes on was Pulse's built in discovery engine, and it can now use that feature to help its members find the content they find most engaging.

As we noted back in March, LinkedIn has released several updates over the last year, incrementally positioning itself as more of a publishing hub, moving beyond its professional networking roots.

Most recently, Facebook style mentions were added to allow for quick notifications about specific people or businesses, when a comment stream was relevant to them.

Alphonso Labs built Pulse in 2010, and Steve Jobs himself even praised the app's interface.

LinkedIn's Year to Remember

The last 12 months have indeed been busy for LinkedIn. The news started with its $120 mil acquisition of SlideShare almost exactly a year ago.  Except for a security breach in early 2012 and a disagreement with Twitter (who doesn't have one these days) news coming out of LinkedIn HQ has been largely of the expand and update variety. 

Updates were made to company pages, and then new profile editing tools were introduced in October 2012. In 2013, LinkedIn hit 200 million members, updated its internal search tools and began rolling out some new functionality related to the SlideShare buy.

LinkedIn can't lay claim to the top spot in social media as far as number of members, but at least there doesn't seem to be as big of an outcry from people whenever it makes an update or acquisition. The next Pulse app update ought to be interesting, and in the meantime, LinkedIn has said Pulse will maintain its current news reader status.

And while we're on the topic of news readers, keep in mind that Google Reader is shutting down in the near future. This might just smell like opportunity for the likes of LinkedIn. Pulse is certainly an option, but there are other Google Reader alternatives.