April 20, 2012
BranchOut Could Turn LinkedIn Into Next MySpace
Startup company BranchOut is in the process of raising cash in order to become the Web's next hot spot for a professional network.
BranchOut's goal is to help people find jobs and network with their co-workers, similar to the social network LinkedIn.However, BranchOut differs from the current online professional network in that it is available strictly as a Facebook app, rather than as a standalone Web site like LinkedIn.
Business Insider reported that BranchOut's CEO Rick Marini thinks the exposure to Facebook's 850 million users could give it a leg up on LinkedIn.
"LinkedIn is a great company, and does a great job with 10 percent of the workforce," Marini told Business Insider. "But the other 90 percent of the world is on Facebook. Those are the people we can finally give a professional profile to."
The report said BranchOut is still hoping to raise investments, but has just received $25 million from various investors, totaling its current funding to $49 million over the past two years.
The up-and-coming professional network already has around 25 million registered users, but still falls short of LinkedIn's 150 million users.
“LinkedIn is focused on the white-collar segment, but this is only 10% of the market,” Marini told Forbes. “We´re providing a professional profile for the Facebook generation. That´s not only senior executives, but also recent college grads to nurses, teachers and cashiers.”
He added that one of two big drivers for BranchOut's growth is that many users are using smartphones as a way to connect to the Internet. The other driver, according to Marini, is its international growth potential.
“About half of our registered users have been coming from outside the U.S.,” he told Forbes contributor Tom Taulli. “We have the typical strength in countries across Europe, Australia and Canada. But we are also seeing traction in emerging markets like India.” Again, this is likely driven by the mobile usage. But some key partnerships also have been helpful.
BranchOut launched in July 2010, and has since raised up itself to employ 45 people in the San Francisco area.
According to a statement released by the company, BranchOut has now posted more than three million jobs and 20,000 internships.
An average of 40 percent of the two million new registered users that join the professional network every week are joining through Apple and Android devices.