Look out Yammer – Podio emerges with full business social network

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When Danish entrepreneur Tommy Ahlers sold his ‘social phonebook’ ZYB to Vodafone in 2008 for €31 million and joined the company, it didn’t seem like he would stay forever at such a slow-moving corporate entity. And sure enough he has now left. But ever the restless entrepreneur he’s decided against lying on a beach somewhere and careered headlong into a new startup which is poised to come out of stealth mode.

Ahlers has now invested in, and become the CEO, of Podio, a hot new startup out of his home town of Copenhagen. I’d heard excited whisperings of the company when I was in the city recently, and indeed, Podio has been around for one and a half years as a boostrapped project, but with big ideas. It’s now open via invitations – either from Podio or from existing users – and it’s pretty awesome.

Podioʼs ʻsocial work platformʼ is best described as a Facebook for companies, but that doesn’t really do it justice. We’re talking a full work platform with messaging, calendars, tasks and contact management – not just another project management space. Perhaps the closest comparison is with Yammer where you are presented with a feed of information about what is going on inside your company. So it’s fascinating that today Yammer has announced plans to create a full social network for the enterprise as well. Interesting times.

I know there are several startups out there offering social platforms for work and collaboration, among them Trampoline Systems and Huddle (which now has $10m in the bank), but having seen Podio, I have to say it’s one of the best of these type I’ve seen yet, and that is no exaggeration.

It gives users the ability to build their own ‘apps’ without any technical knowledge, and allows for almost endless customisation. Over 2,000 apps have already been built by users, which include CRM systems, meeting planners, process facilitation, recruiting, contract drafting and employee feedback. There’s even an app store where users can use apps created by others, or share their own apps for others to use.

Podio is building a multinational German, French, UK and Danish team at the Copenhagen base which now number 12. Thomas Madsen-Mygdal is Chairman.

Over the next few months Podio will be releasing the platform, opening an API, mobile apps and is looking to expand in several countries. But although there is an enterprise play here, Podio is also looking to grow virally, direct to small companies, not unlike Basecamp.

  • http://www.netokracija.com Ivan Brezak Brkan

    They don’t have a website or is a link missing from the article? :/

  • http://hyperlexic.com hyperlexic

    i’m sure it’s just me and being burned out after 10 years in the valley, but none of this is interesting anymore in any way. i just scanned the names of the companies and my brain was just going ‘blah blah blah – social workplace – blah blah facebook for companies…

    this is not a criticism of the article or the companies or the market in general. i’m sure they are very cool services. but am i the only one really sick of reading about the latest ‘social, location, collaboration, hyper-local, check-in, app-marketplace platform in the cloud’?

    oh, just me? carry on.

    • Martin

      “We’re talking a full work platform with messaging, calendars, tasks and contact management – not just another project management space.”

      Not to be rude, but isn’t this exactly what comprises 99% of the 1 billion project management web apps out there?

      Though with Tommy Ahlers on board, it might become successful, it’s a bit hard to get excited over such ground breaking functionality as calendars and tasks.

    • Snasm

      I agree with hyperlexic. It’s not so much the words, but the fact that the “new tech” seems to have less and less barriers to entry. So, before the consumer or business culture can fully adopt a service or technology and make use of it, a new one is poised to replace it on hype. The business cases for many of these services have hardly been articulated, yet we are constantly moving to version Next.0 if not an outright new startup platform. I guess the good thing is that startup costs today are almost nil.

  • http://www.logmedo.com Roshan Shrestha

    The links for “Trampoline System” and “Huddle” both take me to the article, “Danish Mobile Social Network ZYB Acquired By Vodafone For €31.5 million”

    • Steve O'Hear


      • http://www.logmedo.com Roshan Shrestha

        However, the link “Yammer has announced plans…” again takes me to the article, “Danish Mobile Social Network ZYB Acquired By Vodafone For €31.5 million”!!

      • http://twitter.com/mikebutcher Mike Butcher

        Apologies, bug. Fixed.

  • Simon O'Shea

    I’m also sick of the word ‘Social’. However, it’s just a word.

    I think these boys are one to watch, the ‘app’ builder sounds particularly interesting – I just hope the project gathers enough ground so it becomes commonplace. There are so many of these management apps that it becomes a pain being forced to learn multiple applications.

    I’ve had a flick through their website and I have to say I’m impressed. Now I just need an invite! Anyone?

  • http://david-noel.com David

    Wow, did anybody say Facebook.

    I love Yammer, we use it all the time but instead of the web version, most of us use Gabble

  • Stephen

    Sounds a lot like Salesforce’s Chatter.

  • http://www.logmedo.com Roshan Shrestha

    The “app builder” seems interesting! Shameless plug here! My own web application, http://www.logmedo.com, allows users to create (and share) different apps (I call it logbooks). However, having the apps integrated within another web application might be the way to go.

    Maybe I should link up with Yammer – they do not seem to have apps!

    For those of you interested in trying out my application, use invitation code STARTUP.

  • Mark

    Wow, how unique! There are at least 10 other plays that are saying they will be the Facebook of the Enterprise… give me a break, these guys are a copycat!

  • http://hyperlexic.com hyperlexic

    microsoft could have owned this market a decade ago. the one major barrier i have to these online collab / productivity solution is getting others (clients, partners) to use them. nobody wants to sign up for yet another channel of communication and fragment their already completely splintered info stream/library. msft is only now pushing online office in a real way. yet, they have enough inertia to actually still pull that off.

  • http://tarathetiger.com Tara Tiger Brown

    Not a great name – I thought it was for listening to the radio on my iPod.

    Agree with hyperlexic about MS. I worked on Office Live and it was “supposed” to be exactly this but they had the name Microsoft behind it and required Live to sign in. Both of which didn’t excite anyone.

    Also, I’m sad that this is considered exciting. Aren’t we a tad beyond calendaring and tasks?

  • Iqbal Gandham

    Not very exciting, agree with most, seems that social, vouchers, location is all becoming a bit…well boring.

    Not that boring is a problem, if it makes money, and its what users want, after all what was facebook, only a UI on top of IM, and what was Messenger just a nice UI on top of IRC (I know I know protocols etc differ).

    What I would really like is someone to build a voucher company which plugged into my calendar/diary. Imagine booking a meeting, so I know the time and the place, and then I got a list of discounts during that time and at that place…one click book, from outlook

    And no I am not building it or plugging it…


  • Tom

    I was lucky enough to meet up with Kasper and get a look at Hoist (as it was then) earlier this year.

    I’m convinced Podio will succeed – in my view it’s perfectly suited to teams of 5 – 20 people. It offers the open-endedness of Yammer but coupled with the highly customisable apps, you get a greater feeling of the system working hard for your specific needs as a team. Watch this space.

  • http://mindjumpers.com Jonas Klit Nielsen

    We been using the platform for the last 12 month, in the beginning absolutely on a test bases, but through out the last 4-6 months we have started using the platform for most of our communication and work flow.

    The interesting thing is that we can build it around our needs (the opposite to 37signals products) – which slowly kills off our use of all other different sorts of online tools and services we have used. Our goal is to just have one place to collaborate and communicate internally instead of a million different places.

    Podio is not the only thing out there, but the thought and value of using a platform in the future like Podio is enormous both in saving time, making your organization more social and innovative.

    Is Podio perfect yet – absolutely not, but I believe with the latest upgrades both in personal and management – we will see a very strong tool soon.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tahitahi Tine Thygesen

    This work platform actually works! I’ve used it in my last two companies and it reduces internal email communication massively, while improving on the social aspect, something I’ve really appreciated as a CEO always looking for efficiency improvements. I agree that it is definitely not the only good work platform out there, but the multitude of uses makes it a pretty efficient organizational tool.

    I follow these guys quite closely (the danish tech start-up scene is a small place after all) and am totally impressed with the ambition, skills and determination of the team. I am convinced the world will see a lot more from these boys!

  • http://twitter.com/ideasoutloud Gus Murray

    Describing Podio as ‘Facebook for Companies’ is paying undeserved complements to Facebook and underplaying the role that Podio can potentially play in our working lives. Podio plays on three workplace trends: Perceived Control, Perceived Progress and Connectedness.

    Podio provides users with an overview of what’s happening in their team, organization, etc. and by combining key work functions into the one place the users gain a sense of perceived control. With constant streams of information hitting us from all sides i.e. updates, emails, invitations, project flows, etc. it is nice to have an overview which places all this things in on central location.

    With the majority of us are looking to master a skill that enables us to perform tasks more efficiently and / or in a superior manner to others. Podio, allows users to build their own apps and skill over time, starting with something as simple as a meeting agenda and moving towards a CRM system. The ability to learn and grow gives the user a sense of progress.

    Finally, Podio like others before it, allows users to connect to others, what separates Podio from many others is the ability to connect with people ‘contextually’. Meaning that users are connected to each other through the project, team or organization that they share. This feature creates sense-making for users allowing them to better maintain ‘contextual’ connections, like tagging but just with all the work history, conversations etc. included.

    Finally, although the word “social” has been thrown around a little to often, with “innovative” coming in at a close second, and not putting down other start-ups in the same field, Podio has a talented team, traction and the vision to be a key contender in this growing sector.

  • http://www.whitebull.com Farley

    Forget about the social work platform for a minute…with Podio, the thing that will stand out is the “app builder.” So far, it sounds pretty cool!

    Good luck to Tommy and his team!

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  • http://luciddesign.co.nz Galen King

    Calling this the Facebook of business, social this and social that is underselling it. The ability to create these custom apps is hugely powerful.

    In about an hour today, I have built a multiple-model app to track advertisers, magazines, editions, ads, sizes, placements etc including delegation, deadlines, tasks etc. Amazing.

    I predict Podio will be a game-changer. Watch this space!

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    […] units, or smaller departments in bigger corps or .gov agencies.Tech Crunch had an article about it.http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/09…So did the NY times http://www.nytimes.com/external/…Insert a dynamic date hereCannot add comment […]

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