Social network membership will exceed one billion this year and a Scottish start-up aims to stand-out from the crowd.
— As seen on Holyrood Magazine
Reid Hoffman, the former PayPal executive, founder of the professional networking site LinkedIn and investor in some of the Web’s most successful start-up companies, believes that one of the most important things a site can do is “separate signal from noise”.
When Hoffman was thinking about LinkedIn, he focused on the idea that every working person will have some kind of profile on the Web: “And who knows what may find me? If I’m looking for a job, a job may find me. If I’m looking for an investment, an investment may find me. If I’m an expert on something, a consultancy may find me,” he said in a talk to Stanford University in 2007.
“The other idea is: what is the key that separates signal from noise? How do you sort between people who are crazy, people who are well-meaning but you don’t want to talk to and people who you would invest in? People have assets they can deploy and one of these is personal referral. If someone I trust says, ‘Pay attention to this person’, then I pay attention. So LinkedIn is a profile and a network of trust for reaching and filtering people, with applications built on top.
“It is version two of the resume, if version one was a list of assertions on a printed Word document. In version two, you can have your resume network validated. In that environment, it is easy to check people out. Not only that, people can check out the person who is trying to hire them. Working life is heading to entrepreneurship; you are a small business and your brand is what you can do. The skills of entrepreneurship are applicable to any career path.” Since Hoffman’s talk, LinkedIn has emerged from the shadow of other social networks (albeit, its membership is still a fraction of Facebook’s) to potentially become one of the next wave of publicly offered companies. It now has more than 1,000 employees and has grown to 90 million users in more than 200 countries.
The company has hired banks to advise on an initial public offering (IPO).
An IPO would follow a $500m investment in Facebook, the most popular social network, by Goldman Sachs and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies. Their stake valued Facebook at $50bn. LinkedIn would be the first major US socialnetworking website to do an IPO, giving it funds to take on its larger rivals in the industry. “What the Goldman investment underlined is that there is a huge window of opportunity for other social networkers to make it to the market,” said Josef Schuster, the Chicago-based founder of IPOX Capital Management.
Into this market comes a Scottish startup, KILTR, described as “the first social network for the 40m Scots worldwide”.
It is the brainchild of Scots businessmen Brian Hughes Halferty and Stewart Fraser and aims to bring together business professionals of Scottish descent around the world. There are seven times as many people of Scots descent around the world than actually live in Scotland and there are many more with an affection for the country, it asserts. Its founders say KILTR will tap into “the vast knowledge, experience and opportunity offered by the Scottish diaspora.” The founders who met at university in 1992, are both passionate Scotsmen who are focused on harnessing the power of social-networking technology to help shape Scotland’s future international success. They assert an “unparalleled commitment to build a world-class product, and just as importantly, a great Scottish company.” They describe the site as a next-generation business social networking and media platform.
It leverages Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and entrepreneurial spirit to assist professionals, entrepreneurs, companies, organisations, clubs and societies, who are Scottish or have an affinity to Scotland, to accelerate their success across the globe.
Hughes Halferty hatched the idea for the network during a trip to the United States. As soon as he began speaking with a Scottish accent, he noticed how many people claimed a connection with Scotland, whether through direct heritage or simply a love of the culture. That connection gave them an immediate bond.
“Diaspora networks bringing together groups of expatriates devoted to their culture and heritage are incredibly powerful for fostering business growth,” he said. “With KILTR, we can provide a one-stop resource for the tens of millions of people of Scottish descent around the world, and gives Scots the basis to form connections and business relationships across borders.” The company says that unlike other social networks, where people may find themselves connected to strangers with no common interests, KILTR uses a built-in search and recommendation engine that pushes relevant opportunities to the users.
The site is focused on delivering valuable business and networking opportunities to members whilst sharing information, links and important connections to support individuals and businesses worldwide.
KILTR aims to establish itself as the professional networking service of choice for Scots and ‘affinity Scots’. The company has recently closed a Series A round of financing with Par Equity of Edinburgh as the lead investor allowing the company’s evolution from prototype to public beta launch. Subsequent follow-on investment is expected with a worldwide launch planned later this year. The unique aspect of KILTR is that professionals, entrepreneurs, companies, organisations, clubs and societies can immediately start networking with others who have a known shared connection or affinity for Scotland.
“One of KILTR’s advantages is its clean, uncluttered interface,” adds Hughes Halferty. “We use a concertina navigational device across the site, which allows pages with large quantities of content to be organised into bite-sized chunks of information. Users only see what they need to see, in the context of the function they’re performing, reducing a lot of the noise common with social media sites.” The interface also uniquely supports complex functions such as contextual posts, attachments in conversation replies, embedded multimedia and links, and tagging of post types for a specific user, group or organisation, leading the way in social media innovation. “We have created a platform that allows everybody, from tech-savvy professionals to novices, to immediately jump in and begin opening doors to business opportunities,” says Fraser.
Entrepreneur Christian Arno, who founded the international translation company Lingo24.com, welcomed KILTR’s entry: “It’s great to see any British start-up using the internet to blaze a trail across the globe. And given that my company was launched in Scotland, it’s particularly great to see a Scottish startup doing something a little different on the Web.” Mark MacLeod, a partner at Real Ventures, Canada’s largest seed investor, added: “As a proud Scotsman, I’d love to connect and do business with people from the homeland.” But he added: “Generally speaking, people have ten websites or services that they use regularly. So, if your company wants to hit it big time, you need to displace an app, service or media company that is currently in people’s top ten lists. That, of course, is no small feat.” It is estimated that the membership of social networks could exceed one billion this year; KILTR is hoping that its distinctive voice will be heard above the noise of the crowd.
The future of friends: Who can topple Facebook?
By Rory Cellan-Jones
— As seen on BBC
Facebook has won the social networking wars, right? The likes of MySpace, Bebo and Friends Reunited have fallen by the wayside as Mark Zuckerberg's friend machine trundles onwards, to complete its mission of world domination. Or maybe the story isn't over, and someone else will come along to show us a better way of networking?
In the final episode of The Secret History of Social Networking on Radio 4, we look at where this phenomenon is heading next - and whether Facebook will continue to rule the roost. We hear from a clutch of new networks, with different ideas of how we will live our online lives in the future.For Foursquare, it's a vision of life as a kind of boy scouts' game, on the move sharing your location with friends and collecting points, badges and mayorships along the way. But can they make even a dent in Facebook's appeal, when their ideas have already been copied by the much bigger network?
Path, the San Francisco network founded by a former Facebook executive, believes we all want to share more of our lives, in the form of photos and video clips, with a far more restricted collection of friends. Its idea is a smartphone app where you record key moments for your nearest and dearest, rather than telling all to the world. But, despite managing to attract quite staggering sums from investors, the start-up seems to be making little progress in winning users over to its concept.
And then there's Kiltr, a social network which believes the future of friendship is local. Kiltr is aimed at Scots and the Scottish diaspora around the world. Its founder Brian Hughes Halferty says giant networks like Facebook don't suit everybody: "There's a lot of noise in the bigger networks," he explained. "And what we'll see happening is the user base of these networks gradually splitting off into more fragmented networks, based on specific interests, and potentially shared values, even a localised, regionalised approach."
And Kiltr isn't too fussy about whether you're actually Scottish - I've joined with no credentials whatsoever.There's no reason why local and specialised networks should not prosper in the shadow of Facebook, though they may struggle to put much of dent in the audience of a site which has shown, from Egypt to East Finchley, that it can be all things to all people. A bigger threat may be mounting concerns about security and privacy. A number of rival networks are being set up with the explicit promise that they will give users more control over their data and their privacy than is on offer from Facebook.
Diaspora attracted plenty of interest when it announced its plans last June in the middle of a row over Facebook's latest privacy settings. Its founders quickly raised a sizeable sum from online well-wishers, with their plan to give people more control over who sees any aspect of their online activity. Nothing much seems to have happened since, and Diasora looks like it might struggle to find enough people who really care about this issue. But one of the founders Daniel Grippi insists the idea still has widespread appeal amidst concerns about Facebook: "Even non-technical people understand that this is a problem, and that something has to be done about it in the short term. Owning your own data is a huge selling point and a natural step forward."
And others are even more strident in their view that Facebook has taken web users in the wrong direction. Johan Stael von Holstein whose MyCube network allows anyone to keep a safe copy of all the data they have put on a social network, says parents in particular need to be aware of the dangers of Facebook's social graph: "Their kids will never have to go to an interview again because they'll just be recruited on the social graph that Facebook holds for them, that they're selling to companies... this is a nightmare that George Orwell would be jealous of."
Facebook's sheer scale is now putting it in the firing-line - from cybercriminals who see it as a great place to launch an attack, from parents worried that it is not doing enough to protect children from stalkers and cyber-bullies, from neuroscientists concerned about what it is doing to our brains and our concepts of friendship.
The network does seem aware of these threats to its reputation. Yesterday a senior member of its privacy team spent an hour briefing journalists about all the ways Facebook is trying to make sure its users can lead happy networking lives, free from the attention of stalkers, spammers, bullies and bugs. But when I asked whether the emergence of rivals like Diaspora had focused minds, he replied "I don't know much about it to be honest," and asked me to explain what it was about. He, like just about everyone I've met from Mark Zuckerberg's empire, seemed supremely disinterested in what was going on elsewhere in the networking world, focusing entirely on what is going on inside the business.
And, for now at least, that seems a perfectly sensible approach. By my reckoning, more than a quarter of the world's two billion internet users are now on Facebook, and traffic to the site keeps growing. By one measure it has now overtaken Google. With that many friends, no wonder nobody at Facebook is losing sleep over the threat from rivals.
Everyone is set to recruit more talent
As featured in The Scotsman:
Colin Walker and Dino Squillino of 'Everyone.'
Photo: Ian Rutherford
By Peter Ranscombe Published on Tuesday 3 January 2012 01:15
A WEBSITE design firm that lists Black Bottle whisky, social network Kiltr and the Edinburgh Sparkles winter festival among its clients will nearly double its headcount this year to cope with its rising workload.
Glasgow-based Everyone, which creates websites and runs social network-based marketing campaigns, was set up 18 months ago by technical director Colin Walker and creative director Dino Squillino.
The pair had previously worked together at digital agency Drivebusiness, where their clients included retailers such as AllSaints, Bench and Gant. They had also worked at 2FluidCreative, which counted Asda, Pearl & Dean and Tennent’s lager among its customers for promotional campaigns.
2FluidCreative was set up by Jacqueline Doherty, one of the co-founders of the Reality Group, among Scotland’s first internet businesses. When Reality was sold for £35m, Doherty set up 2FluidCreative, which in turn was wound up in 2009.
Everyone plans to take its headcount from seven to 12 by the middle of the year.
The company turned over about £120,000 during its first year in business and its directors are now targeting about £350,000.
Walker said: “We’re taking the expansion slowly, so we can recruit the right staff. It’s a big compliment to have so many big brands wanting to work with us.”
The firm has carried out projects for whisky labels owned by Burn Stewart Distillers – including Bunnahabhain, Ledaig and Tobermory – and for Solley Hotel Group, Cake Clothing and Bloom Venture Catalyst. Bloom provides access to “crowd funding”, allowing companies to raise money from a large number of investors.
Walker added: “Being based at Glasgow Film City, near the new BBC offices at Pacific Quay, has really helped because it’s a very creative atmosphere.
“One day you might see zombies having lunch in the canteen after a film shoot and the next day you might bump into Robbie Coltrane.”
Peter Allish, business manager at Royal Bank of Scotland, which has backed the company with £10,000 of lending, said: “Colin and Dino represent all that is good about the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in Scotland and our support reflects their determination, professionalism and commitment.
“We will continue to focus on providing the funding to enable firms like this to realise their ambitions.”
The Scotsman’s sister paper, Scotland on Sunday, revealed that Kiltr – one of Everyone’s most high-profile clients – has secured a third round of funding, which will allow the social networking website to launch across the UK in the coming weeks.
Article from The Herald: Michelle Mone and Sir Tom Hunter at the Scottish Business Awards.
Picture: Julie Howden
The charitable Scottish Business Awards attracted a roll-call of top entrepreneurs last night as Sir Tom Hunter, Sir Ian Wood, Sir Tom Farmer, Sir Arnold Clark, Jim McColl and Michelle Mone heard Sir Bob Geldof call for a new commitment to "social business".
At a ceremony hosted by Angus Deayton, 85 companies paid £2000 each to take a table, with 100% of the profits going to charity CLIC Sargent and social enterprises Wild Hearts and Glencraft.
An auction had prizes including a chance to "spend the day with Bill Clinton in New York" and "a round of golf with Paul Lawrie".
The award winners were Barrhead Travel (employer of the year), Greene King (marketing strategy), Linn Products (new product), Argent Energy (green business), Ian Suttie (entrepreneur of the year), Vets Now (social entrepreneur), Vascutek (business innovation), We Are Everyone (new business), James Watt of Brew Dog (young entrepreneur), City Building (corporate social responsibility), Insights Learning & Development (customer focus) and TAQA (growth strategy).
Organiser Josh Littlejohn of Capital Events said the event had "challenged the business community to use their skills in enterprise to create social businesses that tackle pressing problems in Scotland and overseas"
Much to our surprise and delight we have bagged our very first award. The title of RBS Scottish Business of the year goes to our proud business. We firmly believe that has been achieved through our ongoing relationship, support and collaboration with our amazing clients and team of talented people around us. This feels like a mini big deal to us as it proves you can be rewarded for working hard, believing in what you set out to do, and being nice to folk along the way. It doesn't end here but for now, a massive thanks to you all, you know who you are.Share
I am delighted to be working with Everyone and clients, present and future, in a New Business Development role.
Based, as we are, right next to the River Clyde, the history and industrial heritage of our waterways is recognised by most. These big estuaries were the main commerce channels of Scotland for centuries. They were also places where information was exchanged two-way about locations foreign and lifestyles unknown.
Writing this during my first day working from the Everyone offices in Film City, on the site of the former Govan Town Hall, there is a sense of history but also of possibility – it is an incredible building alive with creative agencies and broadcasters.
It is hard to avoid the impression that this location remains a vital channel of communication and people doing business.
Marketing and new technologies have been the most rewarding aspects of my career so far and I have a great deal of admiration for the way in which Everyone has been created. It’s about collaboration and engagement, helping business move forward and improving the lives of customers.
So, after a good few years working for luxury brands like Linn Products – who themselves have “Clyde built” inscribed on their hardware - and Montpeliers (Edinburgh) who helped transform central Edinburgh from a dry financial zone to something far more colourful, I anticipate projects new to be passionate about.
I look forward to bringing my experience and energy to Everyone…and, in turn, helping organisations realise their goals. It is a time of change as we all know, but being creative is in our nature, it’s going to have to be. And I firmly believe Everyone is the place to be in Scotland to harness this belief and make it a reality.Share