Chances are, you’re asking, “Another social networking tool? Who the hell is Viadeo? I’ve never heard of them before.”
The answer to that question is probably because Viadeo’s presence has been mainly overseas.
Viadeo was founded in 2004, two years after LinkedIn. Its headquarters are in France. The company is very active in Brazil, Russia, China and India.
Out of curiosity, I created a Viadeo account.
The site started me off in French.
This is how I discovered the biggest difference between Viadeo and LinkedIn - it has the distinction of being the only network that can offer profiles in multiple languages.
I went through the customary profile setup, with the usual suspects - educational and career background, interests, contact list (no thank you; I don’t need any more potential spam getting out there). And same as LinkedIn, you can browse news feeds and forums, search for connections and jobs.
But I discovered how intensive the site isn’t. That’s actually very refreshing. Viadeo's site is more streamlined than its predecessor. No offense, but I find LinkedIn a little messy.
This year, Viadeo opened a branch in San Francisco – a convenient 40 miles from LinkedIn’s Mountain View headquarters.
Viadeo’s founder and CEO, Dan Serfaty, said, “We hope to offer the U.S. market a gate of entry to these emerging countries.”
In a counter move merely days later, LinkedIn announced that it was opening an office in Paris.
According to LinkedIn executives, this was because the number of French professionals using LinkedIn passed 2 million, and statistics showed many of those individuals planned to change jobs in 2011.
It is possible the timing just happened to be a coincidence.
Then I considered this:
LinkedIn went a step further in marking its territory by becoming the first major social network to put forth an IPO.
The profitability soared to $9 billion last week.
In February, when LinkedIn filed for its IPO, Viadeo was actually considering going public. But the company chose to step back from the battle.
According to Serfaty, the site wanted to focus on growth rather than shareholders and profitability. If they did go public, he added, it would not be for at least a year, maybe two.
The way I see it, Viadeo hasn’t yet gained enough ground for a presence in the United States that would necessitate an IPO.
At the moment, the majority of the U.S. jobs on Viadeo are from corporations with long histories of hiring through staffing firms and recruiters. Those who are closest to the recruiting model know about Viadeo. The rest of us in the US have yet to discover it.
Serfaty obviously realized this, as he claims the IPO frenzy will “hit its limit.”
LinkedIn is probably relaxing for the moment. It's got an edge on other competitors like BranchOut and Xing.
However, I remember a little instance of Facebook knocking Myspace from the top of the social networking pyramid.
Myspace was becoming nasty, with its gaudy images and relentless hacking and spamming.
Facebook was cleaner. It had a universally recognizable design and was easier to read.
Myspace conceded defeat by saying Facebook "wasn't really a competitor." And Mt. Everest is just a hill.
Multiple languages, a clean, open look and precautionary business moves are key factors in Viadeo's growing popularity.
With Viadeo being second in ranking to LinkedIn, does it stand a chance of becoming #1?