Can $18M Make BranchOut The LinkedIn Of Facebook?

Can BranchOut use $18 million in funding to professional networking on Facebook into a massive goldmine?

Despite a recent decline in popularity, BranchOut has managed to secure $18 million to beef up its professional social network on Facebook, all the better for competing with LinkedIn.

The most likely rationale behind the funding is the quality management team and a solid product roadmap, which includes a new feature that was launched today: a jobs tab.

The concept is pretty straight-forward: users on the world’s largest social network can turn to their friends for job recommendations and to recruit through friends as well.

For anybody looking to hire, there’s a good chance that you know how useful LinkedIn can be in discovering high quality talent. Facebook, however, has yet to be properly exploited for job opportunities. While Facebook’s advanced search functionality previously enabled recruiters to spam your friends discover high quality talent, the search page was pulled a while back.

Most important to the new jobs tab product is that it doesn’t just reside within the app. Companies can use the product to promote jobs on their own Facebook pages.

With the rising popularity of Facebook pages as a hub for online promotional activity, there has yet to be a company that fully enables the recruitment potential on a page. And that’s the market that BranchOut hopes to dominate.

BranchOut is not alone in betting big on Facebook pages. A micro-economy has sprouted up to support commercial activities within Facebook pages. Whether it’s page customization solutions, publisher management tools, e-commerce solutions, and now job postings, there is a large selection of options for companies looking to customize their Facebook pages.

While it’s unclear how large the market for Facebook pages will become, investors are betting big on the space. In contrast to the glory days of the Facebook platform when investors were writing checks to anybody with an idea for a application, investors are more selective in the companies they pick this time around. BranchOut’s strong connections in the industry have also helped secure this round.

Rick Marini, chief executive and founder of BranchOut, is hyper-connected. He has been able to secure a veritable Who’s Who of investors and advisors. The $18 million indicates that investors and advisors have extremely high expectations for Marini’s company. Given that jobs are a very lucrative industry, there’s no doubt that this company should be able to build a relatively large revenue base quickly.

Now we’ll have to wait and see just how big BranchOut can become.