Hire Wire May 03 2012

BranchOut Hiring 45 to Compete With LinkedIn

By joseph walker

San Francisco start-up BranchOut plans to hire up to 45 people this year after raising $25 million in new venture capital financing this month from a group of investors led by the Mayfield Fund.

Social networking has changed the nature of finding a job and getting hired. No company has benefited more from that shift than LinkedIn, which generated $167.7 million in its most recent quarter. Founded in 2010, BranchOut is trying to cash in on the sea change, too.

But whereas LinkedIn markets itself as the antI-Facebook--the place to put forth your most professional self--BranchOut is betting that people's Facebook identifies are the real key to finding a job. The company's job postings can only be accessed through Facebook's site, and job seekers can see who they know at a company whose job they might be interested in applying to.

BranchOut's user growth has been strong. It now has 13 million monthly active users, up from 400,000 less than six months ago. A larger drive in that growth was the introduction of BranchOut's mobile application in November, Founder and Chief Executive Rick Marini said. Mobile users now constitute 40% of daily traffic. Growth in international markets has helped, too, with non-U.S. users comprising over half of its new user signups.

Facebook has the people you're closest to

Marini said that whereas your connections on LinkedIn are acquaintances you've met at conferences or in other shallow circumstances, Facebook has the people you're really closest to and whom are most likely to recommend you for a job. In November, the company launched its Recruiter Connect product, which is similar to a service provided by LinkedIn that lets recruiters search through its database for potential job candidates.

"Liinkedin does a good job addressing 10% of the global workforce, the white collar executive group," Marini said in an interview. "We address that market, but we also address the Facebook generation, people who are care about social and technology and their real relationships."

The majority of the 45-person company's new hires will be for its San Francisco headquarters. They'll be looking for technical hires who can improve its ability to recommend jobs to candidates. Search experts, data scientists and back-end engineers will be most in demand. The company writes its software in Java.

Cash compensation ranges from between $80,000 and $120,000 for junior engineers, and as much as $120,000 to $150,000 for more experienced hires. Equity is available for all new employees.

Eventually, the company plans to build out sales teams in New York, Los Angeles, Europe, India and Brazil.

Revenues aren't "huge right now," Marini said, as the company is focusing its resources on acquiring and retaining new users. While there are no immediate plans to go public, "expectations are really high and our goal is to continue to build the company toward an IPO," Marini said. The company has been "approached several times by big [potential] acquirers," he said, but BranchOut did not pursue those conversations.

Write to Joseph Walker at Joseph.Walker@dowjones.com

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