Tag: xing.com

Xing buys Socialmedian
Image by gabemac via Flickr

Perhaps Lars Hinrichs‘ Christmas list this year included a new tie, a new iPod, and maybe an acquisition of leading news company in the states.  I don’t know if he’s getting the tie or iPod, but I can report that XING has acquired New York-based socialmedian, an innovator in the online social news category founded by Jason Goldberg who also lead Jobster (by the way, the photo is of Daniela Hinrichs holding the newest addition to the XING family).

In the deal, XING will pay a combination of cash and stock valued at 2.9 million Euros (approx. $ 4 million), with a performance-based earn-out valued at between 0.5 – 2.5 million Euros (approx. $700K to $3.5 million) payable over three years.

With socialmedian, XING members will be essentially have their own personal news assistant trolling all sources of news, which we know doesn’t just include websites.  Socialmedian essentially collects, sorts and organizes information from social services such as Twitter, Digg, Del.icio.us, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, GoogleReader, FriendFeed, the international blogosphere, and industry and online media sources, then filters that information through your social contacts.  What this means is that you only receive the news you need to know based on your interests, job, and passions, from the people in your networks.   Given we at Consort use many of these various services, we all applaud XING’s newest baby.

Lars Hinrichs (XING) and Kathy Johnson (Consort Partners)When we heard the news that Lars Hinrichs, CEO and Founder of XING, was passing the baton of CEO to Dr. Stefan Gross-Selbeck of eBay, we were saddened, but also understood the decision.  Lars started the company five years ago, when the Internet was in a “dead zone” between the DotCom Boom and Web 2.0 days.  He loved networking and saw an opportunity to bring together aspiring and established business executives from around the world.  He called the company, Open Business Club (or OpenBC), based on the notion that it was open to everyone and was completely transparent – I could see who you were connected to and vice versa, so we could better understand our “six degrees of separation.”  OpenBC thrived as the technology sector began to breathe in new life, and was profitable within 90 days of launch.  Subsequently, Lars decided to change the name to XING – inspired by the railroad crossing signs he saw in the 145222867_ef496c36052.jpgUS (get it – XING = crossing!).  The company got a new look and appealed to markets outside of Germany – attracting users from the US, China, India, and of course, every corner in Europe.

In December 2006, Lars took the company public, marking the first “Web 2.0” IPO.  Seven profitable quarters later, Lars has proven he can run a startup and a public company and has now chosen to give the day-to-day activities to his successor, while he joins the company’s Supervisory Board.  He’s taken the company’s EBITDA margin from 17% to 40% in Q3’08, which is nothing to nothing to sneeze at, especially in today’s recessionary climate.

Lars is not just an incredible entrepreneur (we’re going to keep our eyes on him, as he has a track record of starting successful companies), but he’s also one of the nicest guys I know.  We also think the world of Daniela Hinrichs, who has navigated the press and communications around XING for several years.  They are both the embodiment of business networking… and downright nice, smart, ambitious, international, and caring people.

We’ll miss Lars but are proud to have had a “front row seat” while he created one of the most important and successful business networks in the world.  We’re looking forward to the next chapter of XING, under the tutelage of  Stefan.

Connect with me on XING here:  https://www.xing.com/profile/Kathy_Johnson

p.s. the photo above was taken during our last meeting in SF when we had to do Lars’ favorite thing in San Francisco -have dimsum lunch at Yank Sing.  We saw the sign as we left the restaurant and thought that was the perfect embodiment of where everything was headed – up and full steam “ahead”!