LinkedIn takes on Xing, or the other way around?!

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I wanted to follow up on my post LinkedIn versus Xing (aka Open BC) from November earlier, but did not get around to it until now. I did not expect such an interest in this topic when I wrote my post on a quite Sunday afternoon when I noticed that my OpenBC homepage was redirected to The fact that they are working on the re-branding was nothing new. I blogged about it back in September already.

I just had signed up for the OpenBC Pro account and thought that I do a comparison with LinkedIn from my point of view as user of both services.

I did not know that the relaunch of OpenBC as Xing just happened a few hours earlier which is one of the main reason that it got that much attention. If you want to learn more about the changes to the Interface at Xing, check H. Dean Hua’s Blog who analyzed the changes in great detail

I was engaged in several interesting discussions at forums, xing groups and blogs that discussed the subject and of course at SEJ; for example the discussion at the Xing Group: “Entrepreneurs Playground”  (requires Xing account but no group membership to read).

The whole thing was taking a bad turn when  Bill Liao, senior partner and Chief Networking Officer of Xing posted a comment at SEJ and shortly after that Konstantin Guericke, Co-Founder and Vice President of LinkedIn.
H. Dean Hua  from Sachi Studio Web Design wrote about what happened at his blog and I also had some direct communication with him and discussed the issue. It was not cool, but judge for yourself.

Open Business Club IPO in December 2006
Only a few weeks after the re-branding of the service to Xing did Open Business Club go public on December, 7th 2006.

The IPO of Open BC in Germany was going well, the issue price of 30 Euros increased quickly and is risen by over 10% within less than two months to over 33 Euros (see graph) and puts the value of the company at about 175 Million Euros.

LinkedIn is still privately held and does not show any indication to change that anytime soon.

The re-branding in October changed the name of the website, but not the name of the company. I was also first looking for Xing and found another Asian company with that name, before I realized my mistake and looked up the financial information under there company Name OPEN BUSINESS CLUB.

The Open Business Club Stock Symbol is: O1BC.DE and it’s ISIN (International Securities Identifying Number) number is: DE000XNG8888.

Current standing and future Plans
LinkedIn is still the king on the block with about 8.5-9 million members (December data) compared to 1.5-2 million xing members. While Xing plans to break intro the American market and even more into the huge untapped Asian market does LinkedIn work on their expansion in Europe, especially Germany. already supports 16 languages and is regarding its possible reach ahead of LinkedIn which is currently only accessible in English.

But LinkedIn plans to launch a German version of the service very soon and wants to give Xing some hard times at it’s own home turf. LinkedIn intents to catch up with Xing regarding number of members in Germany by the end of 2007.

So both companies are getting serious this year and will be trying to snatch each other the customers away wherever possible.
Christophe Langlois from Visible Networking looked at the two services in detail last August in his article: NET – Linkedin vs openBC: a members game. He compared next to other things the growth rate of the two services. See the Charts below.

Growth Rate – LinkedIn vs OpenBC

Number of New Users

Based on that is LinkedIn ahead of Open Business Club, but the last word was not spoken yet.  I am certain that this is not the last story this year that will have the names of the two services in it.

Meanwhile did LinkedIn launch “LinkedIn Answers” earlier this month.

“… an answers service that leverages the user’s professional network to receive business-related advice. LinkedIn Answers was designed to allow members to ask their business-related questions, and receive answers from their personal networks and the hundreds of thousands of experts in the LinkedIn network as a whole. The service gives the site’s nine million users a way to get industry specific answers to business questions and to build upon their professional reputation by responding to questions relevant to their expertise.”

I used it twice and did not find it very useful. I ended up linking up with the person where I answered a generic question about general book recommendations and after that engaged in some communication, which had more to do with his background and mine than with the original question and answer.

Loren Baker, owner of SEJ, did also a test almost a month ago, but I don’t know what came out of that. Maybe he can share his experiences with the new feature.

Some additional facts about LinkedIn
LinkedIn was founded in March 2003 and had at the beginning to fight with losses before they figured out how to monetize the service. LinkedIn is since early 2006 also profitable.

Next to the much higher membership fees for their professional subscriptions does LinkedIn also monetize the pages of paid and free memberships via Google AdSense Ads.

Free LinkedIn Tools are the FireFox Companion, Outlook Toolbar  , IE Toolbar, Jobs Insider for IE and Firefox and Email Signature Creator (Outlook®, Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, Yahoo! Mail). LinkedIn  Buttons (requires login) for your website.

more about Open Business Club and XING
Open Business Club was founded in November 2003 and were profitable pretty much from the start, even though they are a 100% ad-free zone and offer more services to free membership accounts and charge less for their professional services. Mobile allows you to access the most important functions from anywhere using your mobile phone, PDA or smartphone. Standards supported: HTML 3.2, XHTML MP 1.0, WML 1.1. Plugins are available for free download  that allow contact Synchronization with Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, Windows Address Book and Outlook Express. It also allows manual CSV File import/export and has a Firefox search Plug-in. Xing Buttons  for your website.
The openBC platform serves as the infrastructure for corporate groups, including IBM, McKinsey, Accenture and others.

XING Premium (Paid) Services
Premium Groups. The openBC Premium Groups were developed for major global communities, from university and corporate alumni groups to leading business magazines and multinational organizations. This social software offering enables effective management and growth of existing communities within the professional context of openBC.

As well as creating stronger ties with the people that matter and brand exposure to an international business network, Premium Groups also offer sustainable business models for operators. See Groups and Premium Groups information, Events Calendar, Premium World Benefits  (regional).

More information to the two services are available at my original post in November 2006.

Even though the two services are different in certain aspects and are also used a bit different am I convinced that the two eventually fight for the same customers. I don’t know if businesses are willing to have their employees maintain accounts at both services.

Maybe they pay only for one of the two, but support both as an option. LinkedIn is probably a better tool for Business Development, but Xing has a lot of advantages over LinkedIn when it comes to the ability to network.

I believe that the two will eventually provide the same types of services and options and let the user decide how to use it exactly. The question will then be, if the market is big enough for both companies or not.

Future will tell.


Carsten Cumbrowski
Owner and operator of, an Internet marketing resources portal for marketers, web developers and entrepreneurs.


Carsten Cumbrowski
Carsten Cumbrowski has years of experience in Affiliate Marketing and knows both sides of the business as the Affiliate and Affiliate Manager. Carsten has over... Read Full Bio
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  • Loren Baker, Editor

    Carsten, the LinkedIn questions I sent out still result in responses even after a month or so. The sending of the questions was not an official test, but of the 40 or so contacts I have via LinkedIn, about 25 have responded to my initial question.

    Will LinkedIn Questions work? For me, if I want to ping my peers for their opinions on a subject or quotes for a blog posting, email is still the most responsive form of one on one communication.

    But, to archive such responses so others can find them in the future and in an effort to share the knowledge of my connections and peers, LinkedIn Answers works quite well.

    If I want to privately archive such responses, I’d choose GMail 🙂

  • Caydel

    I think the usefulness of LinkedIn Answers depends on two factors:

    1. The types and proportions of various industries within your contact network.

    2. The types of questions you ask.

    The majorty of LinkedIn users appear, at least to me, to be programmers, web designers, Advertising companies and recruiters, with all the other industries trailing far behind. As such, you are more likely to get good, informed answers if you ask questions pertaining to these industries.

    For example, I asked a question about the benefits of different schemes for storing large numbers of fiiles of varying sizes, the benefits of in-database versus in-filesystem solutions.

    I got a large number of well though-out, considered answers within a day or two that provided a lot of influence on my decision.

    So I think LinkedIn answers is a valuable tool, and part of LinkedIn that in my opinion provides a large edge over OpenBC in terms of professional networking.

  • CarstenCumbrowski

    Thanks Loren,

    Mhh.. you made me think. I should link up with much more people and could abuse LinkedIn Answers to conduct a survey 🙂


    thanks for your response. The type of people you mentioned who use LinkedIn, usually have already other communities for this kind of questions. For a question like yours would I have never thought about LinkedIn to get an answer. Interesting though.

    p.s. regarding your question. benefits are clear. 1. The Data are stored in a central place
    2. You can use build in features of the DB Server (e.g. SQL Server) like Replication
    3. Permission issues. Creating files in the file system requires permissions the user that runs the process does usually not has
    4. Troubleshooting is easier since you have the data right along the corresponding records

    It is still not always, actually most of the time not the best choice to do regardless of the advantages I mentioned. Database size and performance will maybe become an issue that is not worth all those benefits.

    Done that. We leave the file (PDFs) outside the DB as files. Most of the above issues can be diminished by some smart code, extra tools and good organization and documentation.

    Just to make sure, SEJ is not the place to ask those kind of questions usually hehe.


  • Caydel

    Hey Carsten

    Thanks for that – We ended up going with keeping the files in the database. It was just simpler, and would not add that much more overhead provided the tables are organized well. Proper DB normalization stuff.

    At any rate, LinkedIn provided me with some good answers. Keep in mind that many of the people using LinkedIn are always interested in potential jobs and hiring. Also, most people know that a lot of recruiters and headhunters are on LinkedIn. So, they answer well and fully in the hopes that they will impress said recruiter or job hunter, and get offered a job better than what they currently have.

  • CarstenCumbrowski

    Yep, It’s a case by case decision. There is no general correct answer to the question whether you should or should not store it in the DB.

    Normalization its nice and good, but not always the answer. You loose and gain no matter how you approach it.

    The sum of all benefits compared against the sum of all disadvantages in regards to risks, overhead, maintenance work, hardware limitations or extra spending, performance gain or loss etc. have to be weighted.

    Depending on how that calculates for your specific case does it make either sense or no sense to store it in the database.

    In our case was the winner the decision against it and in your case it is not. Life. What else can I say :).

    Real life is unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see it) in almost every case way too complex to apply general rules to it that always fit the case.