Ever seen this screen before? Then you’re probably part of the 25 million. BranchOut owns up to its namesake by allowing Facebook users to see which of their friends (and friends of friends) work at specific companies. The cool thing about BranchOut is that it doesn’t require users to build a professional network one person at a time. Instead, the service piggybacks on Facebook’s pre-existing network of friends and “branches out” from those friends, making them professionals and connections – at least that’s how the service labels them.
But it’s not like these guys have come out of nowhere. Since July 2010, BranchOut hammered away at the site, adding features, promoting, etc. Along with some nice backing by some good guys at investor firms like Accel, Norwest, Floodgate, and Redpoint, the upcoming pro social network finally got its due. Two years and 25 million registered users later, BranchOut has become LinkedIn’s biggest competitor.
“At this point, it’s Coke and Pepsi,” BranchOut CEO Rick Marini says of the company’s relationship with LinkedIn.
The service works a lot like LinkedIn where users fill in work histories, reconnect with old co-workers, ask for testimonials and request introductions of “professional” to “professional”.
BranchOut, now with a staff of 45 employees, hosts about 3 million job listings and has a product that goes head-to-head with LinkedIn similar service called RecruiterConnect – a product which helps employers source talent. Ironically, LinkedIn blocked BranchOut from accessing its API after violating its terms of service back in July.
The more surprising statistic isn’t so much BranchOut’s 25 million but its rank among popular apps on Facebook. According to AppData.com, BranchOut ranks as the 31st most popular app on Facebook — ahead of Instagram, Skype, Twitter and Pinterest.
Marini says much of the growth can be attributed to international adoption and new mobile users. About half of new members are from outside of the U.S., due partly to integrations with European career sites StepStone and totaljobs.com. These partnerships, along with a similar relationship with CareerBuilder in the U.S., allow job searchers to see connections who may help them get a particular job from within that job’s listing.
LinkedIn still holds the lead with 150 million users but with Facebook currently at 850 million users, BranchOut can definitely extend itself quite nicely over time.