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Viadeo, a European business social network, opened its public application programming interface (API) in the United States today. The company is also putting on a developer challenge, to encourage American devs to use Viadeo’s data.

 Viadeo Contest

Europeans may liken Viadeo to a home grown LinkedIn, with 35 million members to rival LinkedIn’s total 120 million. The company is based in Paris and is the number one business site in China and the number two in Europe. Like LinkedIn, Viadeo supports business interactions such as networking, reading industry articles, job boards, and more.

“If you say you work for Viadeo, people will know [what you mean],” chief data officer Reto Matter told VentureBeat in an interview.

But now that Viadeo  has a nice foothold in Europe, particularly French speaking countries, as well as China and India, the company is looking to see what Americans can bring to the table. The developer contest will run from September 7th to October 14th when a judging event will take place. Judges are Silicon Valley focused with people like blogger Robert Scoble and Richard Ling, general partner at Rembrandt Venture Partners, which has invested in companies like Good Technology and RapLeaf.

The public API was originally launched in Europe last month. One developer created a “Viadeo connect” button, similar to the Facebook connect button that allows you to sign into other websites using your Facebook login.

According to Matter, however, the company does not want to be as dominant in the US as it is in Europe.

“Being European but having lived in America for 20 years, I would definitely say there are some strong differences in product marketing,” Matter explained. “I would say our product is French-centric. With Linkedin we see a much more Anglo-Saxon user.”
What Matter means is  LinkedIn has a much more structured user interface as opposed to Viadeo. The structure may work better in the US, as opposed to Viadeo which flourishes outside this market.

Viadeo is offering up to $20,000 in prizes, including $10,000 cash for first place. The company was founded in 2000 and is based in Paris, France.

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