BranchOut is officially going for the big time. The company, which makes a professional social network that runs on top of Facebook, is announcing today it has closed on $25 million in new funding, bringing its total venture capital investment to $49 million.
This latest batch of money, which serves as BranchOut’s Series C round, was led by the Mayfield Fund with the participation of previous investors Accel Partners, Norwest Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures. Tim Chang of Mayfield will join BranchOut’s board of directors. The money will be used mainly for hiring more employees to add to BranchOut’s current full-time staff of 45, founder and CEO Rick Marini said in an interview, which you can watch in full in the video embedded above.
At less than two years old, BranchOut certainly seems to be on a fast track when it comes to funding. But according to Marini, the money is only following the company's very real growth. BranchOut now has more than 25 million registered users, more than half of which — 13.5 million — are active on the app each month. To put those numbers into context, more than three new users are joining BranchOut every second. When BranchOut first debuted in July 2010, it was often characterized as a “LinkedIn for Facebook” — but it’s becoming apparent that BranchOut is carving out a very clear identity of its own. Marini explains its position like this:
“LinkedIn is a great company, and I think they do a really good job of addressing the ten percent of the global workforce that are white-collar executives. And we, of course, address that market as well. But if you think about the other 90 percent, these are the people on Facebook. So it’s anywhere from a recent college grad, maybe returning military [personnel], cashiers, customer service, all the way up to accountants, software engineers and CEOs. All of those people are on Facebook, and what we’ve done is finally given all of those people a professional identity for the first time.”
The real key to BranchOut hitting the tipping point in terms of growth has been its mobile app, which launched in December and is now driving 40 percent of BranchOut’s total traffic. That has helped the company grow both in the United States and internationally, Marini said, noting that today about half of the new users joining BranchOut are coming from outside the US.
Right now BranchOut makes money in two ways: Through job postings on Facebook and its Recruiter Connect product. Marini declined to provide any specific revenue numbers or detail how close BranchOut is to profitability, but he did say the company is generally more focused on growth than on monetization at the moment. “I would say right now we’re in investment mode,” Marini said.
Large funding rounds like the one BranchOut just took on bring the topic of “exit strategies” a bit closer to the forefront. When asked if BranchOut could emerge as an attractive acquisition target for the likes of Facebook, Marini said that right now he’s all about staying independent — and alluded to being on the IPO track. “We are heads down growing a big company… We’re not even thinking about selling. We want to go big on this one.”
Make sure to watch our full interview embedded above to get Marini’s thoughts on how Facebook’s IPO will impact BranchOut and the larger startup ecosystem, how today’s tech atmosphere compares to 1999, and more.
BranchOut is the largest professional networking service on the Facebook platform. The service leverages users’ social graphs and networks to help them find jobs, sales leads, and new hires. The company has over 500 million professional profiles through 30 million active users. The company was founded in July 2010 by Rick Marini.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks. The original...