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Business social network beta launches. Why?

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London-based entrepreneur John Horsley has launched the beta of business-networking site Marzar (slightly ironically at a Web2NewYork networking party yesterday, in fact).

Horsley says Marzar is an ‘enterprise 3.0 business networking and collaboration tool’ for the global business community. Marzar’s vision is to, “build an environment for business people to work, collaborate, network, socialise, research, resource, find a job or win the next big deal.”


If that sounds a little like LinkedIn or a kind’ve business Facebook, then you’d be forgiven. However there doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the functionality of those sites.

Access to Marzar is free, but a small amount per month will be charged for if you choose to utilise the file sharing, syndication and data storage functions.

This is a highly competitive space and, in all honesty, it’s hard to see what Marzar brings that’s new to the table. The site looks and feels like one from a few pre-Facebook years ago. Plus, this business networking space has already been tried by one UK startup which bit the dust,, the longest player in this game is doing OK, perhaps because it has been around a long time and offers a pretty vibrant small business community.

But within a day of registering for the Marzar beta I had an email from a guy in Canada wanting to connect with me who I’d never heard of. The limits on this kind of spam are tried and tested at LinkedIn. Marzar will have to try harder before it comes out of beta, assuming it does.

  • Fanimagnit

    You really don’t get it do you?

    Marzar isn’t meant to be LinkedIn or Facebook – it is user defined and user driven, so it will make it out of Beta you sad-case!

    The reason it was launched in the US (ironically – oh get you Mr sarcasm) is because c.60% of social and business networking is driven from the US.

    Marzar was due to launch in August (if you ever signed up and read the release) but following the invitation to present at Web2NYC th elaunch was postponed.

    Anyone who had previously registered could use the site in a test environment.

    Soflow is no more and Ecademy has c.70,000 users. LinkedIn and Xing trump them by a considerable margin. If you don’t get Marzar’s USPs you need to go back to the site and look again.

    Really ought to get all the facts before proseltyzing like a misinformed prat.

  • John Horsley


    I have just hit on your blog and to be fair I have to say as a journalist this is not the most objective of reviews.

    1. – NY Launch FYI – 50% of our registered user base is US with a strong hub in NY
    2. – We are opening up an office in NY and we had been invited to present at web2newyork so it seemed like a good idea to attend the event as we had planed to be in town setting up our infrastructure.
    3. – We are having or plan to have an official launch in London when we are at the end of our test period. If you had contacted me you would have been told about this.
    4. – “If that sounds a little like LinkedIn or a kind’ve business Facebook, then you’d be forgiven. However there doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the functionality of those sites”. – Mike I am not sure about this statement infact we have more functionality than Linkedin and to be fair I think you have totally missed the point. We have taken the platform to a level that we were happy with and yes we could have added loads more functionality but the point you are missing is that Marzar is going to be driven by the users they will request the functionality they want and we will build it. You should have read this in the first email I sent you. We are in Beta testing that means that the users are testing the platform and we are making the fixes required and will add updates before an official launch.
    4. Why didn’t you post your suggestions on the site seeing that you are soo well informed?

    As a journalist I am amazed that you didn’t bother to contact me to ask questions you just assumed and made the wrong assumptions.

    Please in future do your homework !

  • Paul Walsh


    Does an opinion have to sit on the fence for it to be ‘objective’? What do you write when there’s nothing positive to say? Should one make it up so they can appear to be ‘objective’?

    If Mike doesn’t ‘t think your site will do well then that’s what I’d personally like to hear. I don’t want to read a post that doesn’t express an opinion. We have enough people who do that already (which is why I stopped reading their blogs). To be honest, I lost interest in your site as soon as I read the first paragraph. At least Mike went to the trouble of registering.

    “Marzar is going to be driven by the users they will request the functionality they want and we will build it. ” Ouch. This tells me that you’re going to have a lot steep road ahead of you. You should know what users want by now.

    My advice is for you to build an application for Facebook after a little more research into what users want.


  • Paul Walsh

    Fanimagnit – what is Marzar’s USP? How can it have one if it hasn’t delivered any benefits? It can’t have delivered any benefits if users have to request functionality to be built. Sounds very very very strange to me.

    Judging by your tone, I’d say your name is John Horsley in a bad disguise, or you work with him. They’re can’t be more than 3 people who use the site, so you must be one of the developers

  • Mike Butcher

    Either I am a prat and too stupid to understand the full nature of Marzar, or I made a mistake and the functionality is there but currently not obvious, or I am right and Marzar brings nothing new to the table. There is a further possibility in that both the site and the press info Marzar has been sending out does not communicate what it does very well. Certainly I read a lot of PR fluff about what business people would be able to achieve with the site (do deals, advertise their services etc etc) but not a lot about HOW they would do it. And I don’t recall anything about ‘we’ll build the functionality later based on feedback’. I have also seen no valid reply as to why I was technically spammed by another member who cannot possibly have my normal email address, which is something LinkedIn requires. Before Marzar chucks its toys out of the pram, it needs to remember that there is a reason it has the word ‘beta’ next to the logo and start working on these issues so that simple hacks like myself can understand their proposition in one take. Time is too short and there are too many other similar services out there for Marzar to assume their proposition will get traction just by launching as is. I genuinely wish Marzar luck and I look forward to the next iteration.

  • Fanimagnit

    Mike – I think your sentiments are true and perhaps more can be explained in the releases, but as the site develops I think you have to appreciate that the money of Facebook et al is not available to Marzar yet!

    Paul – I think John can fight his own battles adequately with out me. Would he really quote 60% then be inconsistent in another response to quote 50%? If you couldn’t even read past the first paragraph that says it all. You’d rather slag something off than try it, people with your adventurous spirit are what is going to keep the internet moving slowly – be more progressive and all encompassing. Facebook isn’t the panacea and I think Marzar is looking to prove that. When Zuckerberg loses his court case you’ll have to trot across to Ecademy.

    I can’t wait to bump into you at an event – I think there will be plenty to talk about.

  • Mike Butcher

    BTW – to clarify: I do not think that just because Facebook and LinkedIn exist no-one should ever try to crack open another network, or a network aimed at a niche like business. I just think that anyone entering this space is going to have to be at least as good and offer tools which really blow the market away. Yes, not everyone has the budget of these big guns, but that’s just the game now – it’s going to cost to be properly competitive now. Good luck everyone.

  • Paul Carr

    Fanimagnit – you very clearly have an association with ‘Marzar’, which is unfortunate become your comment reflects very poorly on them. As someone who has been on the raw end of Mike’s journalistic pen in the past – unfairly, in my thoroughly biased opinion – I understand the inclination to get riled over negative reviews. But there’s a difference between the comment credited to John Horsley and the one credited to your pseudonym. It’s the difference between debate and throwing your toys out of the pram. The moment you called Mike a ‘sad-case’ [sic] you lost whatever argument you went on to fail to make. You might disagree with his verdict, but Mike is a well-respected (that’s how to use a hyphen) journalist, and he wouldn’t be editor of TCUK if he didn’t know what he was talking about. And, again, I’m saying that as someone who more often doesn’t see eye to eye with him than does. If you think he’s wrong, explain why. If not, then name calling just makes you look bitter, and gives weight to Mike’s suggestion that Marzar lacks substance. For what it’s worth, I agree with him – there’s nothing there to rival Linked In and to say that functionality will come based on feedback is totally backwards. You won’t get any feedback if there’s no reason or users to join in the first place.

  • Andy Mcloughlin

    ‘xxx 3.0’? I guess someone had to use it sooner rather than later. For shame.

  • Paul Walsh

    Fanimagnit – it was your annoying attitude that put me off as I jumped to comments and back again to the post. I read the entire post but lost interest in paragraph 1. You shouldn’t take feedback so personally.

    I remember Robert Loch coming across a couple of people who headed to the Valley sulking (his words). Companies should ask for feedback, not get upset and throw toys out of the pram. I know way too many successful entrepreneurs who ask friends and colleagues for advice, so reading the comments above just got to me.

  • Dave Nattriss

    This isn’t related to this post, but I couldn’t find any easy way to contact you.

    When I try to subscribe by e-mail to TechCrunch UK using the form on the right, I get a message from Feedburner saying: “The publisher has deactivated subscriptions by email”

    Could you please active them!

  • Mike Butcher

    Dave – The email feed is being looked into, thanks for the heads-up.

    Paul – Always enjoy sparring with you ;-)

  • Fanimagnit

    No toys thrown, all opinions noted, no argument lost, as I’m not arguing – merely asking for a more objective perspective. I felt Mike had missed the point and that is the point I made.

    Did you pass judgment on LinkedIn or Facebook within a day of it launching? If so; it says a lot about you, if not; then why now in the case of Marzar?

    My attitude is open, you seem to have decided Marzar is an open and shut case; “I lost interest in your site as soon as I read the first paragraph”

    I have no association with Marzar. Quite how I could take the comments personally needs a bit of explaining as I have no vested interest in Marzar I’m not on the payroll (or do you prefer pay-roll?) and I haven’t written (or stolen in the case of Facebook) code for the site to use.

    Frankly, I think I have stated what I understood to be happening with Marzar. I think it suits you to keep your conspiracy running about any association I have with Marzar, so go ahead.

    I’m a LION, Facebook user, MySpace User, Spoke, Xing, Ning and user/member of plenty of other networking sites. I am being impartial unlike you Paul who wants to sparr it seems.

    I’m happy to hear anyones point of view, but if you’re not a user of the site Paul; who are you to comment?

    Surely your feedback is a proxy of the opinions of Mike. Have you registered, have you used the site have you made suggestions about the site?

    I don’t know but I doubt it, it seems you’re too busy telling people how to use hyphens. Now that IS sad! Nevertheless I look forward to my lesson on the use of punctuation.

    For reference on hyphenation look here;

    “Language is always changing. It has to move with the times. There have to be conventions. There has to be a negotiated common ground but within that there’s room for variation and a degree of creativity.”

    BTW, what is “a lot steep road” do you mean “long steep road”? [touché]

  • Paul Walsh

    “I’m happy to hear anyones point of view, but if you’re not a user of the site Paul; who are you to comment?”

    As it happens, I’m quite good at reviewing business models and helping CEOs to make improvements almost immediately. I could tell from some comments alone that it’s doomed for failure in this case. As Paul C. reiterated regarding modifications based on user feedback, it’s an open and shut based on this alone. So, I didn’t even have to read Mike’s post to come to my conclusion.

    I can draw a good qualified judgment on a business idea alone, let alone a well documented opinion from Mike coupled with a response from the company founder as I’ve mentioned above. I don’t need to use the site.

    BTW, everyone is qualified to comment. I’ve just decided to write a blog post based on this conversation.

  • John Horsley


    I feel that I need to answer you. I took am happy to accept everyone has a point of view. The reason I am saying the point has been missed is that we do have a road map for the development of the platform only our users will help inform the development. We are in a test phase using this to refine the product before going to market.

    Who are the best people to help develop a networking platform? perhaps it is the networkers who are proactive and using them all the time? these are our early adopters.

    And what I mean by informing the development is just that. We will be asking questions about our products development from a professional audience that is why we will get it right. Would you Paul in all your wisdom develop a product and not ask questions from a panel perhaps?

    After all these are our customers so we need to get it right for them and provide the best service. If some one has a great idea for the development of our product and they happen to be a user then we would be crazy not to hear the idea out.

    The users of Marzar should feel involved as we together with them will build a great platform.

    And Paul when I have some thing to say I would rather say it then use a name like Fanimagnit give me that at least. And Paul C thank for giving me the credit of wanting to enter into a debate and not a thoughtless argument.

    As for LI we are not talking about taking them on ?? please but that is not correct. We provide a different set of services we and have a similar audience but we are not the same.

    We provide a free networking service and additionally we provide services around files such as syndication to a business audience of press releases, case studies, technical document and so on. Whats more is users can set up groups and share document or set up private groups and store business files. Working as a consultant I alway found it an issue not to have an online client space. Well I have solved that problem.

    Can you do this on ecademy or Linkedin? I would say that is a no.

    As for ecademy one point could be that we are not charging users for accessing and replying to a message or restricting any networking functionality and calling that a premium service.

  • Mike Butcher

    Well, I just had my 10th unsolicited ‘request to be a contact’ on Marzar from someone I don’t know, doesn’t know anything about me, is not connected to anyone else I know and won’t know my normal email address. This happened to me right at the start as well. Either Marzar starts being ‘driven by its users’ pretty damn soon (as in, the ones who don’t want to get spammed I mean, not the ones who want to do the spamming) or it’s future as a credible business network is, shall we say, limited.

  • John Horsley

    Mike these are simply invites like you would get on any network as if you want to connect. I receive inviations on Facebook all the time that are in a sense unsolicited after all that’s how I connected with you Mike, is it not?

  • Andrew Moffat

    Wow! Am I late to this conversation. However, I would like to address Mike’s last comment:

    “Well, I just had my 10th unsolicited ‘request to be a contact’ on Marzar from someone I don’t know, doesn’t know anything about me, is not connected to anyone else I know and won’t know my normal email address.”

    If all you want to do is interact with folks you know…stay in your desktop contact manager. The purpose of social networking is to exand your connections…to meet folks you do not know. If you look at the core functionality of most social networking sites you will find that you are limited by the number of connections you have. You do not have visibility to activities that happen outside your “network”. So if you really want to work a social networking site to exploit its full potential…you have to build your personal network.

    The concept of spam happens when one of my contacts begins sending numerous email on topics for which I have no interest. Or they constantly ask for recommendations when I don’t know them…or they ask for introductions…these are easily dealt with (the delete button).

    I am an open networker and I interact with a large number of open networkers. I have been able to offer assistance to contacts from fiji, Japan, India, South Africa, Europe, Brazil, the US and Canada.

    I would not have known any of these people if I had not been open to making connections.

    I have been social networking for three years. I have interacted with more than 50k unique contacts and to date I have never been sorry that I accepted invites or provided invites to any of these contacts….even the “unique” ones have a certain charm.

    What I do not understand is why social networking sites:
    1. ask us to invite all of our contacts and then limit us to the number we can invite.
    2. ask us to invite all of our contacts and then penalize us if they don’t join in an “appropriate” period
    3. ask us to invite all of our contacts and then if they press the dreaded IDK (I don’t know) button the site assumes we were spamming – even though there is a “spamming button” which is not the IDK button…btw I have a number of contacts that hit the IDK button but then sent me an even though they are contacts the site still restricts my access to functionality
    4. make us spend most of our time adding new contacts…instead of conducting the business we came to do – reality is that there is rarely anything else for us to do.

    I have recently been introduced to Marzar and John. Very quickly I realized that the Marzar site has been built around useability: Build groups, announce events, share documents, jobs/contracts/items there is a Craig’s List like space…on top of all that John has made room for suggestions and is trying to interact with the Marzar members…wow! a developer that cares about what I want (need)…is Marzar the perfect…however, the process and structure that John has implemented will give it a great chance to be an awesome business site…and if it’s not…I can only blame myself for not participating.

    Viadeo is also going to blow the doors off the north american based sites… multi-lingual! and lots of real business functionality. They also looked to members for input and recently delivered their GA release. It is amazing and has gone fare beyond the recommendations of the members. It recently past the 2m member mark and with a couple of acquisitions (yet to be announced) it will hit critical mass…and it will establish the new benchmark for social/business networking.

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