Tell us about Viadeo. How is the growth?
In the last year, we added more members than LinkedIn. We are now adding one million members a month and just this week announced that we have 30 million members all together worldwide.
In a nutshell, how are you different from LinkedIn and Xing?
For starters, we’re local. LinkedIn is “one size fits all”. For example, if you you go to our Indian site ApnaCircle, you’ll find a little widget on the front page which allows you to consult horoscopes. It’s because many Indian businesses do consult horoscopes before they hire somebody. Would it work in Paris or New York? Absolutely not. We localize our offering so that it works better in the local market and that’s why we’re so successful in China, for example. We’re number one in China because we communicate in the indigenous language.
We interviewed Dan back in September 2007 and there were a
lot of things that have happened since then. You made a number of
acquisitions, i.e. Tianji was acquired back in December 2007, how is
Yeah, it was a very significant acquisition and it’s been very exciting. We recently launched in Beta the English language version of Tianji. We found out that about half of our 4.5 million members want to communicate with businesses in the West in English.
We’ve all been reading about Google and China. How has Tianji been affected by this?
We haven’t been affected because we understand at a local level what the local issues are. We recognize that the Chinese business culture is so different from our own. When we acquired Tianji, its founder and CEO Derek Ling stayed on board 100% and is still the CEO and we’ve got a 100% Chinese team.
In 2008 you made a move in Spain with ICTNet.es. Can you tell us more on how that’s going?
With ICTNet it was very different than with Tianji. Tianji was a professional social network which we bought and sits squarely alongside Viadeo. ICTNet was a network of about 75,000 highly active professionals in Spain (mostly IT professionals) on a content driven site. But what it didn’t have was the ability to network. We wanted to give them a platform for networking. And almost all of those people have started using Viadeo. ICTNet is still running the same way but we’ve given an opportunity for them to migrate and that’s happened very successfully.
Have you taken the same path with each of the acquisitions? How is the integration working in general?
With ApnaCircle, which is now the fastest growing professional network in India, we’ve migrated it across to our platform so now Viadeo and ApnaCircle are on exactly the same platform but we’ve retained their brand.
Perhaps the more exciting integration was with UNYK which is a smart address book and not a professional network. The golden egg is the matching of the professional social network with the smart address book. It closes the loop between the telephone, professional network and the online address book.
Speaking of address books, is Microsoft a threat? Don’t you
think they’re going to integrate and have this feature within Outlook?
We have just signed a deal with Microsoft which we publicized this week as well. Microsoft Outlook 2010 will have a fully featured version of Viadeo. So when you receive an email from somebody you’ll see his profile online if you are connected to that person. If you’re not connected you’ll have the opportunity to do so with one click. It also means that you can see the status of your contacts while you’re in Outlook.
Congratulations. That’s great news. Now is that out of the box in Europe and America or just in Europe?
It is out of the box worldwide. Of course, you have the option to switch things on and off.
You are also opening up your API. Tell us a bit more about that.
We were the only non-American launch partner of Google for OpenSocial. In the last couple of weeks of our most recent roll out, we launched 5 OpenSocial apps. For example, you can now stream YouTube or a slide show presentation within your profile.
We’re in May 2010 and you’ve been on quite an acquisition
spree over the last few years. Is there anything in the cards for
acquisitions in 2010? Can we expect any announcements?
There are no definite plans right now. As you know, we are acquisitors and there are gaps in new emerging nations where we still want to grow. So you can certainly watch this space but we have nothing to announce at the moment.