BranchOut: Bridging the gap between Facebook and LinkedIn

By Team YS|3rd Feb 2011
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In July 2010, a Facebook app called BranchOut was launched with the sole aim of enabling job-based and career networking. It leveraged users' existing friends circle and matched them up with suitable job openings. In short, the business idea was 'LinkedIn on Facebook'. Of course, by this time, people had come to terms to with the fact that you connected with friends on Facebook and with colleagues on LinkedIn. Facebook was home to the 'frivolous' while LinkedIn was the den of the 'formal'. So, it wasn't too much of a surprise when a number of bloggers and social media experts dismissed BranchOut as a 'temporary phenomenon'. But there was something fundamentally compelling about the business idea of adding on a layer of career utilities to the world's largest social networking site. It was the insight that most people found jobs through their real-life friends and invariably, all their real-life friends were on Facebook.

Soon after its launch, BranchOut got a shot in the arm in the form of fund infusion (about $6 million) from Accel Partners and a bunch of high-profile angel investors including Shawn Fanning, the founder of Napster and Dave Morin, former Facebook platform manager. Fanning and Morin are also the co-founders of Path, the 'personal network' startup that has been the subject of much debate since its launch (to know more about Path, check out http://www.yourstory.in/news/5266-85-million-funding-for-path-the-personal-network).

Now, only time will tell whether BranchOut will turn out to be a 'LinkedIn-killer' or a damp squib. However, there seems to be tremendous potential based on simple arithmetic. Facebook has about 600 million users while LinkedIn has about 90 million. People already spend a considerable amount of time everyday on Facebook and BranchOut only stands to gain from that. Having said that, BranchOut's only advantage over LinkedIn seems to be the fact that it is on Facebook. And that's not something that BranchOut can hold on to, for too long. Initially, LinkedIn had the problem of being perceived as a 'database of CVs' and this was dealt with by introducing news, niche interest groups, etc. BranchOut will have to offer all this and probably more, in order to dethrone LinkedIn. In fact, BranchOut seems to have already started chipping away at LinkedIn's weak suite, i.e., young people, with initiatives like the Ultimate Internship Contest. So, go ahead. Try BranchOut and let us know your thoughts about it. If you're a LinkedIn user, do tell us how it compares. We would love to hear your views. You can also write to us at feedback@yourstory.in.

Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 3rd February 2010 | Bangalore

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