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December 19, 2008

Xing cashes in on news network

European business contacts directory and social networking operator XING has acquired New York based socialmedian for a total of $7.5m.

By Jason Stamper

The deal will bring news networking features to a network which is claimed to have a user base of around seven million and is very popular among Europe’s professionals.

Around 510,000 of Xing’s users are said to pay about $90 a year for a premium account and full networking functionality. Revenues from January to September this year amounted to $32m, which is well up on its last full year.

On socialmedian, users can create and join ‘news networks’ on any topic, so that they can follow news clippings and share news within their social networks. It gathers information from about 19,000 sources, including social media services such as Digg, Delicious, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Google Reader and then filters that news through an individual’s social networking contacts.

Xing has said that Jason Goldberg, socialmedian’s founder and CEO will relocate to its headquarters in Hamburg, Germany. From there he will lead a new Applications Platform division, which will focus on new systems and applications for developers and content providers to connect to the XING platform.

Xing used to be known as openBC or Open Business Club. It is widely used as a business network in German-speaking countries. It competes against LinkedIn for social networking among businesses.

The system is based around a core contacts management process, which has been augmented with people and jobs finder functions.

The company went public in an IPO just two years ago. Since then it has concentrated on buying smaller, country-specific European business networks.

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In the past couple of years it has added about one million users in Spain by acquiring eConozco and Neurona, as well as merging Turkey’s Cember into its network a year ago.

Xing’s founder and CEO Lars Hinrichs has just stepped down from the top post, and has been replaced by Stefan Gross-Selbeck, formerly eBay’s general manager for Germany. It is reportedly beating LinkedIn in Europe, and is said to see its real growth opportunity in China.

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