Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Founder Speak

The Battle for BranchOut- Can LinkedIn Cut In Before Facebook?

Acquiring BranchOut has to be the most logical acquisition for LinkedIn today. An option that needs to be considered seriously or it shall lose out to Facebook that anyway appears to be on a major buying out spree (Instagram for US$ 1Bn and Microsoft’s AOL patents for US$ 500Mn).

Two years and 25 million registered users later, Facebook’s professional network is the biggest competitor for LinkedIn. What’s more it provides features similar to LinkedIn right on the Facebook platform. This means that not only can users see which of their friends (or friends of friends) work at specific companies but also doesn't require users to build a network one person at a time. Something that works in its favour given the slow time-consuming network building process on LinkedIn.

From a business perspective, BranchOut would be a lucrative addition both for Facebook as well as LinkedIn. Especially considering that it is a start up with 45 employees, 13 million unique visitors per month, is the 31st most popular app on Facebook, has a business model just like LinkedIn and has now recently launched its own mobile app which accounts for 45% of all its visits.

This means that if Facebook acquires BranchOut it can easily enter the space of business and professional networking, an arena currently dominated by LinkedIn and hence affecting its market share quite significantly.

Now if LinkedIn were to acquire Branchout before Facebook gets around to it, not only will it weed out the competition but will also have a readymade social network on a Facebook platform, increasing its number of subscribers.

It’s a wait and watch situation- does LinkedIn manage to win over BranchOut or will Facebook cut in, proving to be a fatal threat to the professional networking site? What are your thoughts on the subject?

- By Viral Thaker, Founder & Director | TheSocialPeople
A seasoned HR & Marketing professional, Viral was one of the early adopters of social media. With over a decade of industry experience under his belt, his skills span corporate strategy, delivery management, customer relationship management, business development and operations management. Viral is a voracious reader, a travel enthusiast and enjoys adventure sports. Follow Viral on Twitter @vrlthaker

Founder Speak is our weekly column by the founders of TheSocialPeople- Viral Thaker & Dr.Vikram Venkateswaran.

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