Startup firm BranchOut trying to out-link LinkedIn

A startup called BranchOut is raising cash in a bid to surpass LinkedIn by offering its own professional network.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Startup firm BranchOut offers a professional social network that its CEO asserts could outdo LinkedIn with greater exposure and the right amount of cash.

BranchOut serves a mission similar to that of LinkedIn -- to help people find jobs and network with colleagues. But BranchOut is a bit different in that it's available strictly as a Facebook app rather than as a standalone Web site.

Some may see that as a limiting factor, but not CEO Rick Marini. BranchOut's chief executive told Business Insider that he thinks the exposure to Facebook's 850 million users could give it a leg up, especially since the popular social network includes more types of people looking for more types of jobs.

"LinkedIn is a great company, and does a great job with 10 percent of the workforce," Marini told Business Insider. "But the other 90 percent of the world is on Facebook. Those are the people we can finally give a professional profile to."

The company is also raising cash to fuel growth. It just received an influx of $25 million from various investors, amounting to total funding of $49 million over the past two years, Business Insider added.

BranchOut has high ambitions but faces a clear challenge trying to even match LinkedIn in overall awareness and popularity. So far, the app has around 25 million registered users, compared with LinkedIn's 150 million.

Still, BranchOut is growing. The company's mobile HTML app has rounded up more users, and dedicated apps are in the works for iOS and other mobile platforms.

Checking my Facebook account recently, I found three requests from colleagues inviting me to join the BranchOut network. That's far from the number of requests I receive on LinkedIn, yet it's not bad for a company striving to make itself known.

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