Profile of Ziggs for our Social Network Site Guide

I recently had a conversation with Tim DeMello, Founder and CEO of the recently-launched Ziggs. We are adding this profile of Ziggs to our Social Networking Site Guide.

Charlene Li weighed in with some thoughtful comments on Ziggs, and Recruiting.com, Joe Nowak, and WisBlawg have all also written about Ziggs, so I thought we should look into the service.

Ziggs

January 19, 2005

Website:

Ziggs.com

Summary:

Ziggs is a management tool for your personal virtual presence. "We are your name agent on the Internet."

Membership:

As of February 2005, Ziggs expects to have 2 million individual profiles representing 40,000 companies.

The index grows every day from three sources:

– Individuals submit themselves (e.g., senior executives such as Ed Albertian. Here’s my profile). Of the individual signups, about 2/3 are small office/home office people (SOHO market), many of them people without a web presence. The other 1/3 are primarily people in transition.

– Companies buy placement, to help increase their profile and to help potential customers due-diligence their employees. This is particularly popular with law firms and other professional services firms.

– Ziggs also researches and includes sites with existing profiles, e.g., corporate websites.

Launched:

Ziggs launched October 28, 2004 with 1 million profiles from 16,000 companies, and 200 million searchable keywords (from those profiles).

Founder/CEO:

Tim DeMello is founder, Chairman and CEO of Ziggs, Inc., his fourth start-up venture. Prior to founding Ziggs, Tim founded Streamline.com, one of the pioneering companies in ecommerce in 1993. He took Streamline public in June 1999.

Corporate Overview:

DeMello raised $5 million from 53 angel investors. The company currently has 14 full-time people, and about 24 part-time employees.

Fees:

$25/year/person. Initially, they offer a free one-year trial.

In addition, Ziggs offers a group profile manager that they sell to companies.

Future lines of revenue:

+ Position-checker technology (coming soon)

+ Premium listings: pushing you up higher in the search engines

+ Personal and business directories

+ Alert systems: how often is your name being searched? Has the frequency of searching gone up?

+ Networking service: comparable to LinkedIn, etc.

+ Group formation capabilities

They theoretically could offer a service to push negative information about you in the search engines lower in the rankings, but DeMello said that they have no plans for such a service.

Description:

The more interesting part of Ziggs’ model is that it helps you to optimize your profile for visibility across the Internet, giving your name leading listing placement in search results in major search engines, including Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask Jeeves, and more. Almost any professional with some experience has some sort of virtual presence; Ziggs helps you to control that presence. According to DeMello, 5-10 of every 100 searches are for peoples’ names.

The less interesting part of Ziggs’ business: they offer a search platform for professionals for finding people in business online. We say this is less interesting because many sites already allow you to publish a personal profile. Ziggs is not unique in offering this service, and any decent search engine already provides you with a reasonable tool for finding individual profiles online.

The difference between Ziggs and other search engines is that Ziggs search is dedicated to people search. Ziggs only indexes profiles, and therefore delivers those profiles in easy-to-read search results. Other search engines provide results on thousands of references associated with a name, making the results more comprehensive, yet at the same time more difficult to wade through.

Not only do individual professionals care about their personal Internet presence, but companies in certain industries (primarily professional services) also care a lot about helping their team to be visible online. For example, law firms, real estate agents, and venture capitalists want their staff to be visible online.

Companies realize that more and more of their employees have a virtual presence, but they prefer if employees are using a virtual presence that their employer controls. Ziggs facilitates that process.

Corporate clients prepay $50/name/year. On average, Ziggs gets 400 clicks per profile annualized. The search sites typically charge Ziggs 6.5 cents per click-thru. That works out to a cost to Ziggs of $26/year.

Notes:

What we particularly like about Ziggs is that it is an open platform. Unlike many social network sites such as LinkedIn, Ziggs is designed from the start to be open to the entire Internet. As a result, Ziggs is useable by everyone, without requiring your social network to participate in one particular social network platform. In addition, we think that Ziggs is filling a real market need.

Charlene Li of Forrester wrote:

I believe this service will have a future, primarily because they are meeting the search marketing needs of a unique segment — professionals who want to be found by their name. Even more importantly, companies that bank on their professionals — consultants, law firms, real estate — will want to be able to easily upload, manage, and market their employees online. Tim shared that companies have told him during sales calls that nobody has ever addressed this issue directly. Competitors like Eliyon resell their professional database, primarily to recruiters while social networking sites like LinkedIn, ZeroDegrees, and Ryze don’t provide an easy way for their members to connect back to existing company profiles.

Recommendation:

If you have an unusual name (like David Teten) and already have an online presence that you control (e.g., a personal website), Ziggs is not a critical service. If you don’t have a personal website, and/or if you have a more common name (like Scott Allen) and are not yet at the top of the search engine rankings for your name, Ziggs can be a very useful service.

DeMello told us that Ziggs analyzed one firm with 1,000 attorneys, and told the firm that 250 of their staff didn’t really need the Ziggs service. The other 750 lawyers had very common names and/or needed prominent visibility in search engines, and for those Ziggs could be very helpful.

Disclosures:

None.