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

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

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 Xing.com. 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.
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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.

Xing.com 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.
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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.

Xing.com 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.
Xing.com 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.
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The openBC platform serves as the infrastructure for corporate groups, including IBM, McKinsey, Accenture and others.

XING Premium (Paid) Services
Premium Groups. The Xing.com 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.

Conclusion
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.

Cheers!

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

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Carsten Cumbrowski

Carsten Cumbrowski

Carsten Cumbrowski has years of experience in Affiliate Marketing and knows both sides of the business as the Affiliate and ... [Read full bio]

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