This past week Viadeo announced a $32M round of funding to “grow business in Europe and China,” reports TechCrunch. WIth the announcement of its round of funding, it boasts 45M users, 10M of which are based in China – they claim to be the largest professional network in China.
Two Weeks Late…
Viadeo, which has allegedly been profitable for years now, has struggled with what I dubbed the “two weeks late” syndrome, having been cast under the shadow of their American counterpart. Having joined the ranks of Dailymotion, Netvibes, and others, Viadeo struggled to differentiate itself from the dominating LinkedIn. Avoiding confrontation (except for a lonely San Francisco office), Viadeo headed east, looking to emerging markets (read: markets where Linkedin wasn’t) for a chance to get the upperhand. Having now established itself as the Orkut of the professional social networks, Viadeo is looking to dig in its heals in the home its created for itself, most likely in anticipation of LinkedIn’s arrival.
It’s not an American vs. French thing….
Before this turns into a “American startups have more money” argument, let me make it clear that Viadeo’s second place status has nothing to do with its location. I’m sure that if Viadeo had steadied the course and branded themselves as a French, or even European/Asian version of Linkedin, then they would’ve made for an excellent acquisition target (and perhaps that’s still the end-game), but they have time-and-time again made public efforts to show how they do not share the same vision as Linkedin.
But here’s the problem with that: I enjoy using Linkedin. I don’t enjoy going to Viadeo. When I research someone that I see on twitter or at an event, I loathe the occasion where I find a viadeo profile and not a linkedin account – seriously, I loathe it. Here’s why:
I’ve lived in France long enough to have a Viadeo account – and I don’t mean that I’ve adapted to the culture and realized that it’s a necessity to connect with likeminded professionals (more or less the source of my joining Linkedin years ago). I mean that I have been pointed to so many Viadeo profile pages that i’ve been forced to get an account. You see, unlike Linkedin, which allows users to customize what information the public can
see about them, Viadeo takes your privacy seriously. That’s why, if you’re not a member (or just not logged in) and you land on someone’s viadeo profile page, you will see their profile just long enough for a script to run that will block out all the information in what can only be described as the most beautiful fade-to-sign-up-page. After encountering this page angerily 25 times, I finally created an account, hoping to get rid of annoying pop-ups and psuedo-paywall. The joke was, indeed, on me.
Now, whenever I go to Viadeo, I am presenting with a different page: “Check the boxes next to people you’d like to connect with” followed by a list of names and faces I barely recognize. Daily emails flood my inbox, and notification numbers flood the viadeo site: “You have two new contacts.” *click* “Fill out your contact information and you can see who you’re connected with” *sigh*. Almost everything is a trap, enticing me to give them money in order to get rid of notifications – it’s like Spotify, except Viadeo doesn’t play music.
Insofaras what will succeed on the internet is simply a digital adaption of what already exists in the real world, I cannot imagine a world where Viadeo will surpass its competitor, or even where it will ever be the better choice for anyone – like a used carsalesman, it pressures me to unlock more features, give more information, and sell myself merely in order to finally have some silence when I visit their site – frankly, I’d rather just go over to that classly Linkedin dearlship across the street.