It's been a long time since I last wrote for BusinessWeek, so when the chance came to write a summary of the Australian economic landscape in the lead-up to the election, I was happy to raise my hand. You can read my assessment (posted before Saturday's result) on the website here.
About a year ago I wrote an article for ZD Net on online social networking tools. At the time I took a relatively hard line on services such as Linked-In, Ryze and Spoke –regarding the business cases behind these services, and the ability of so many of them to survive in the long term. Well, the consolidation that I expected back then has not yet happened, and it seems that many of these services are growing at a good rate.
Social networking is now starting to find its way into the mainstream business applications. Today marked the official launch of LinkMe, an online recruiting service featuring several social networking capabilities. The pedigree of LinkMe is solid – its backers include the successful Morgan & Banks partnership (one-time founders of the recruiting business of the same name), as well as Sensis (the directories and online arm of dominant the Australian telecommunications carrier Telstra). The founders believe that within two years LinkMe will account for around 7% of all Australian jobs posted online.
It will be interesting to see what value the social networking component brings to what is in many senses not too far removed from a traditional online recruiting Web site. Its founders believe that around 60% of jobs are filled through personal recommendations, and hence aren’t captured in the revenue models of existing recruiting businesses. The social networking component might be a way of capturing some of this business, but encouraging referrals and introductions through the Web site.
Social networking tools are one of the most interesting develops on the Web today, and are proving their value in bringing people together to conduct business. But many were set up without a genuine business case – it is hard to identify the need that they fill from which they can draw significant revenue. Their survival now depends heavily on their ability to generate revenue through services such as that being created by LinkMe. It will be interesting to see whether by taking a practical approach to social network – ie, bolting it on to a traditional online business model – whether Link-Me has any greater success.