LinkedIn is now the biggest business related social networking site in the World. Since it was launched in May 2003, it has gained more than 150 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories. Having ruled the waves in this marketplace for a few years, it is now facing stiff competition from a powerful new rival. Facebook wants a piece of the action.
BranchOut.com is the largest professional networking service on the Facebook platform. The service taps into users social graphs and networks to help them find jobs, sales leads and recruit new members of staff. The company has over 400 million professional profiles through 10 million active users. The company was founded in July 2010 by Rick Marini, he says this about the rapid growth of BranchOut:
“One of the reasons why BranchOut grew so quickly is because we have superconnectors with very big networks. For example, Michael Arrington, the founder and Editor of TechCrunch, is connected to over over 800,000 people at 2.4 million companies on BranchOut. When these superconnectors joined BranchOut, a lot of people followed. We grew quickly in the U.S. and Europe and also have a presence in Asia and Latin America.”
BranchOut allows users to see which of their Facebook friends (or friends of friends) work at specific companies. Unlike LinkedIn, it doesn’t require users to build a professional network one person at a time. Rather, they simply connect to their pre-existing Facebook graphs. The interface works a lot like LinkedIn from there: users can fill in their work histories, send messages to their connections, collect endorsements and request introductions to friends of friends.
At the start of 2012 BranchOut had just 1 million monthly active users. Then the professional networking app hired a dedicated growth team, launched a mobile web app, and hit the network effect tipping point. According to AppData, by February it had 2.7 million MAU. Now the Facebook based BranchOut is really starting to gaim momentum, tapping into the employment needs of people past the 10 million registration mark to reach 5.5 million MAU, half from overseas.
“At this point, it’s Coke and Pepsi,” Rick Marini says of the company’s relationship with LinkedIn. “We know the best way to maintain our leadership position is to continue to provide the best experience for our users. We are constantly focused on refining our current features and building new products.”
The way things are going, it might not be long before BranchOut becomes the new Coke.