Is there room for another social network in the age of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? According to newly launched, mobile-first startup Muxi, the answer to that question is “yes,” and specifically, it’s targeting the LinkedIn crowd with its social network for professionals. According to Muxi co-founder Bertrand Besse, there’s still an opportunity here because “LinkedIn is not a social network,” he says. It’s a place for your resumé.
“LinkedIn was launched years before Facebook, and social is not in its DNA,” says Besse. “LinkedIn is more like a collection of online CV’s. People on LinkedIn don’t really connect or discuss with their peers,” he explains. LinkedIn’s foray into social was added through LinkedIn Groups, but people don’t really use these as much as they could, Besse believes. For example, the largest group on LinkedIn (Linked:HR) has 691,000 members, but last week there were only 69 posts in the group.
The problem with LinkedIn’s groups is that they feel like advertising, the user interface is dated, and the freedom to create groups in fact reduces engagement, says Besse. So he and co-founder Thibaud Elzière (also the co-founder of Fotolia, a company with $100 million in annual revenue) have soft-launched Muxi in France, and are today bringing the social network to the U.S. The app is currently in invite-only mode, but those requesting invites will get in. You can also request an invite directly using the link www.muxi.com/i/techcrunch.
“We think France managed to validate the concept,” says Besse of Muxi’s under-the-radar debut. In France, a private beta saw 3,500 testers sign up to use the service, beginning back in December.
In Muxi, whose name is a play on two Greek letters, the company extends the Greek-inspired concept to include “fraternities,” its version of groups, and it also assigns Greek letter grades to each user to indicate their status. Early users are “Alphas,” and as they participate they can grow to become a Beta, Gamma, Delta, etc. by providing valuable content on the network. To “level up,” users have to submit posts that are starred by others. [The scale is as follows: α (0-9 stars); β (10-99 stars); γ (100-999 stars); δ (more than 1,000 stars).]
There are 40 of these “fraternities” in Muxi, which is where you can share your professional experiences with others, ask questions, find colleagues and network with them, post about job openings, and more. Posts in Muxi can also be further shared to Facebook and Twitter. And you can set up a personal circle where you only add those colleagues you want to follow in particular, separately from whichever fraternities they’re involved in.
Going forward, the team is planning to add some moderation capabilities for flagging unwanted posts, a filter which allows you to see only starred posts or those by a certain level of user, and it’s working on iPad, Chrome and desktop apps for release later this fall. The eventual plan is to monetize via targeted advertising, and further on, it will offer an API for developers, if all goes well.
Muxi has raised a small amount of seed funding from Thibaud Elzière, through eFounders, but is now looking to raise more following its U.S. launch.