Solaborate lands $1M, launches social networking site for tech pros

An up-and-coming social network is having a big day. Solaborate, a Southern California startup, announced Tuesday morning it has raised more than $1 million from investors and will launch its product for tech companies in need of a little more networking.

The cash infusion allows Solaborate, which has been available by invite-only to about 400 companies, to court big-name tech businesses in Silicon Valley and challenge San Francisco-based Yammer, the best-known an enterprise social network for businesses. And it’s all free, while most services from Yammer, now owned by Microsoft, are not.

Solaborate takes the best of LinkedIn and combines it with Facebook attributes like groups and chat to give tech professionals a place to network with coworkers and, unlike Yammer, also with professionals outside their companies. It’s a platform to discuss new research, ask questions and troubleshoot a tech problem, said co-founder and CEO Labinot Bytyqi. It’s a place for companies to help customers and showcase products and services.

Bytyqi said Solaborate users might ask for help solving an indecipherable coding error, debate Workday’s cloud solutions or talk up the latest SAP software release. It might also be, in more nuanced tones, a place to poach new employees and job hunt. Users get “tech scores” — something between a LinkedIn and a Twitter endorsement, which rates your contributions on the site.

Collaborating outside the four walls of your office, Bytyqi said, is essential to keep pace in the ever-evolving tech world.

“Technology really heavily relies on the whole community to get the job done,” he said.

Is there a risk of sensitive information being leaked or an employee spilling company secrets to a competitor? Bytyqi admits there is, “but it’s no difference with any other social network.”

Tuesday’s launch moves Solaborate from invite-only to beta mode where the company can begin adding more users. Subscriptions are free, and Solaborate — for now — makes money from advertising on the site. Solaborate’s networking platform is not nearly as robust as Yammer’s, but it does let you get outside your company’s walls to talk with people throughout the international tech world, but the audience is still limited to tech professionals. Bytyqi come from big tech himself — SAP is his former employer.

With some of some of the newer features, users can start discussion threads like Facebook groups, have a video chat, watch a product demo and share large files. Everything that Solaborate does exists elsewhere, whether on Facebook, Dropbox, Google or elsewhere, but on Solaborate it’s all neatly contained on one platform.

Bytyqi said the Solaborate “incorporates the best social media has to offer.”

Although it was founded in 2011, the company has been on a protracted invite-only pilot phase for two years now. The big test for Solaborate starts now, as it has to convince tech companies to adopt yet another communication platform in what is an already very noisy cyberspace. If it doesn’t replace Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, will Solaborate just become one social network too many?

Bytyqi is hopeful that after Tuesday, Solaborate will find its sweet spot in the tech world.

Or, it could always just try to take Yammer’s.




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  • CRS

    What is Yammer?

    • Yammer is an enterprise social network. So the company — which was bought not long ago by Microsoft — sells businesses a platform within their companies that gives workers a place to talk, collaborate, debate ideas, etc. Examples I’ve seen are a salesperson signing into Yammer to chat with a group of technical developers about a project to get a better idea of the workload so they can come up with a price estimate. Or others say they use Yammer to organize an office party. I know of businesses that say they can do these things better on email and Gmail chat, and have gotten rid of Yammer. But Yammer says the platform is supposed to facilitate communication and collaboration in the workplace, and also break down the barriers that cubicles have create in many offices.
      Hope that clarifies things. Here are more details on their website:

  • Sean

    Where’s the founder, Labinot Bytyqi, from? This is a neat idea he had…

  • good luck

    1.Who needs another Facebook ?

    2.LinkedIn has already become ineffective Facebook.