In Five Years, #beBee Will Be As Big As Facebook

CEO and co-founder Javier Cámara : “Our concept is brilliant”

Javier Cámara, CEO and co-founder of beBee, expects more relevance within the sociala media sector in the future.

In five years, Spanish platform beBee will be the world’s largest social network together with social tech giant Facebook. At least that’s what founder and CEO Javier Cámara is aiming for.

The network beBee was launched just 18 months ago, but it has already amassed more than 11 million users, and the company has recruited 70 employees in two offices — one in Madrid and one in New York. During December, they expect to open a branch in Silicon Valley.

That kind of numbers tend to bear witness to a “killer app”; an ingenious service or function that can’t be found elsewhere. But this is not really the case with beBee.

The concept is in many aspects reminiscent of main competitor LinkedIn: both are professional networks that require authentication. Both have a Facebook-inspired news feed. And both allow the user to specify both education and professional experience, and to join groups within the network.

The difference is, according to CEO and co-founder Javier Cámara, that beBee has “both blue collars and white collars” in the community, offers a news feed “based on your interests,” and only open groups — no closed.

“The difference [between beBee and other social networks] is that beBee’s concept is a killer one”

“beBee is focused on giving you all the tools that you need to be connected as a professional. So we will be improving these kind of features — such as instant messaging and video conferences — and our focus is personal interest and passions. And much deeper and more successful business relationships. We firmly believe that your personal interests and hobbies gives you much more opportunities in terms of business. That’s beBee,” he says to Di Digital.

One of these features is the recently launched “Live Buzz”. Simply put, it’s beBee’s equivalent of Facebook Live, but it has a delay of a few minutes and currently doesn’t support comments or reactions during a live broadcast.

Theses limitations are a bit of a scourge during Di Digital’s live interview with Javier Cámara. The only way to solve it is to publish the questions in a separate article. The questions are then read out loud by beBee’s Content Manager Sergio Martínez, and answered by Javier Cámara. The interview is divided into two parts, since the “Producer” article must be updated with the follow-up questions after the first live broadcast.

Both the “Producer” and “Live Buzz” features suffer from various teething problems. For starters, it’s not possible to publish my article containing the interview questions because the character of my last name (the Swedish character “å”) wasn’t automatically transformed when I registered my account, which results in the article getting an incorrect permalink and therefore returns a 404 message. To make it work, I have to change the permalink manually and publish the article again.

“Live Buzz” has some hiccups during the broadcast, and the actual video player leaves a great deal to be desired. The rewind and fast-forward features of the replay are a bit wobbly, and sometimes the picture freezes. The fact that the mobile app is a it slow and the website cluttered doesn’t make things better.

Also, the primitive comment feature does not support nesting of comments, which means that the conversation trees have a lack of branches.

So, if beBee has no unique functions, what is the platform’s real strength?

beBee’s Content Manager Sergio Martínez reading the interview questions for CEO Javier Cámara (who took the opportunity to talk a bit about a Spanish award beBee recently received) during the live interview.

The concept, if you ask Javier Cámara.

“beBee is a killer concept as a whole. We are launching new unique features in the next release with collaborative tools. But again, the difference is that beBee’s concept is a killer one,” Javier Cámara says.

Also, señor Cámara highlights another key factor: the diversity that beBee has to offer.

“From our point of view, diversity is key for beBee’s success. In our staff we have Russians, Americans, Romanians, Britons, Spaniards, Brazilians, Cubans, Italians, French, and German. That’s diversity. In terms of managers, we have probably more female managers than male. And our platform is already available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, French, German, and Italian,” he says.

But why should I choose beBee instead of LinkedIn?

“It’s not a question of choosing beBee or Linkedin, it’s not a question of which one is better. Both are different. Linkedin is a huge successful directory, where people is trying to find a job or to sell you something, and beBee is about engagement through passions. The main difference is that beBee is professional and personal, it’s about new people, people that you don’t know yet, new people with common interests. We have open follow and open groups. beBee is 100% free. You can tailor your feed on beBee based on your interests. And on beBee we have both white and blue collars. beBee will not replace any social networks.“

After being a beBee user for a couple of months, I’ve noticed that the mobile (iOS) app is a bit slow in performance. How much are you working with improving the performance in general, and on mobile in particular?

“I fully agree. In fact, we are launching a new platform during January. Hopefully, it will be as fast as the Jamaican sprinters.”

“Our opportunity is to monetize professional social networks through advertising”

The revenue strategy is simple, according to Javier: ads will get beBee to grow. It’s basically “a simple Facebook business model,” he says.

But it’s not really that easy to compete with Facebook and Google when it comes to advertising. In fact, they are fierce and dominant competitors. How will you try to beat them? Do you have plans for monetization other than advertisement, such as subscription models?

“Definitely we believe only in advertisement models. We have more than 18 years of experience in the advertising industry, and we don’t believe in a subscription model for beBee. That’s the reason why the LinkedIn users’ worth is about 60 dollars, and Facebook’s worth is 198 dollars. Our opportunity is to monetize professional social networks through advertising. If you put barriers to the users, the result is that you get less than 25% of monthly active users. The advertising business model is huge.”

Javier Cámara, CEO and co-founder, with Matt Sweetwood, US CEO & President, in New York.

beBee’s concept may be unique or not, but the support for the platform is great amongst users. It is particularly noticeable when the interview related “buzzes” (beBee’s equivalent of status updates) I post generate thousands of page views and a large amount of comments and likes, even though I have a mere 60 followers. beBee’s worker bees is a passionate crowd of networkers, to say the least — which is exactly what Javier Cámara wants them to be. Capturing a passionate and engaged audience is key to beBee’s success.

What is the state of social media in five years?

“Hopefully, beBee will be on top. I think beBee with Facebook are the most valued in terms of future, and I expect more relevance. Now, there’s a huge problem of relevance and a lot of noise on social media.”

Perhaps the gentle, passionate buzz from beBee (pun intended) can drown the cacophony of social sources aggressively trying to steal our attention?

beBee em Português, Matt Sweetwood

This article was originally published on Di Digital, Dagens industri’s news site covering tech and startups. This is the fourth part of the series #TheContenders, where Di Digital interviews co-founders and representatives of the new social networks. Each interview is conducted directly on each platform — in this case, on beBee.

Henrik Ståhl is a journalist with almost 15 years of experience, recently turned Product Owner at Bonnier News, working with the digital development of Dagens industri and Dagens Nyheter, occasionally writing articles for Dagens industri and Di Digital. He is also a Digital Identities speaker.

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