The Wall Street Journal has long envied the success of professional social network LinkedIn and its 15 million or so monthly visitors (WSJ.com has just a third of that). In late 2008 they launched WSJ Community, a social network bolted onto the main WSJ site. That community is a ghost town – raise your hand if you’ve even heard of it, let alone visited it. At some point, they’ll likely shut it down as quietly as possible.
But they are still serious about gunning for the LinkedIn crowd and all those monetization opportunities (jobs, ads and a heck of a marketing pool for WSJ subscriptions). They’ve been working on a new social network, to be called WSJ Connect, we’ve confirmed. And instead of building it internally, like they did with WSJ Community, they’ve enlisted the help of another arm of parent company News Corp. – Slingshot Labs. And yes, they call it “LinkedIn Killer” internally.
Slingshot Labs is the R&D arm of News Corp. and works on digital products. Their first product was Daily Fill, which launched earlier this year. They also built the MySpace Events product that we covered in March. They operate fairly independently, have their own funding and 40-50 staff, according to one person familiar with their operations.
WSJ Connect is still in the planning/conceptual stages, says one source, but there is “strong interest” to move the project forward. Importantly, it would leverage the WSJ brand but would be a separate property and unencumbered by the need for a paid subscription to the newspaper.
Conceptual screenshots of the product are apparently floating around Slingshot, the WSJ and MySpace. We’re trying to track them down.
Absolutely no one responded to our requests for comment. Luckily, lots of ex-MySpace employees are happy to talk.