Santa Barbara-based IntroNetworks has raised $2.7 million in a first round of capital to develop a social-networking service for companies and events.
There are a ton of these business-oriented social networks, from Visible Path, to Five Across and Facebook‘s corporate offering — along with blogging and wiki software, all making headway in replacing or supplementing existing intranet directories that most big companies already have.
Chief exec Mark Sylvester says about 500,000 people have used the service, through deployments at HP, Autodesk, Business Objects, Dow Jones, Intel and other companies — including at events, where thousands of people are registered at the network at a time.
IntroNetworks is built on Flash, and lets users create profiles with descriptions of their tastes, wants and aspirations with simple one-word self-descriptors (see screenshot below). The idea is that companies can use it to get easy, useful information about their employees, or about participants in events they hold.
For example, employees can tap into a central database to locate fellow employees based on their skills, experience, availability, or other criteria. Conference organizers and employers can stay in touch with event participants and clients.
The real drive behind this, though, appears to Adobe’s desire to support its Flash technology platform. Adobe Systems participated in the funding round. If you play around with the site, you’ll notice the way Flash is showcased to provide a highly visual interface. Users just drag words from pre-defined lists into profile bins, similar to the way AJAX technology lets you move boxes around the screen. Graphical sliders can also be set up to record how people rank themselves on various scales.
Users can search the resulting database of profiles by keyword, and results can be presented in the form of a dartboard-like graphic divided into quadrants and concentric zones.
It is just the latest in a trend by software companies to personalize products. Last month, a Seattle company Entellium introduced Rave, which introduces similar techniques to customer relationship management software. There, you build a profile of your clients and sales prospects that includes photographs and lists of their likes, dislikes and buying interests, and then given ratings about how likely they are to buy something. The New York Times has the story.