Microblog Service swabr the ‘Facebook for Companies’

By Lynsey Anderson |

Any startup dubbing themselves the ‘Facebook for xyz‘ is always taking a risky approach – setting themselves fairly high standards to reach. But new enterprise micro blogging service swabr has jumped in with two feet, insisting its social networking space, geared towards professional organsiations, is the ‘Facebook for companies.’

Time will tell, of course, but for now the Berlin-based startup is offering users the ability to quickly and easily connect with colleagues and partners; a private platform for businesses to communicate their ideas without the hassle of email.

Short for Schwarzes Brett (Blackboard) 2.0, swabr is looking to satisfy the growing demand from organisations for real time communication. Users can operate within networks, where they can access posts and short messages from people they work with without anyone outside the network being able to see them.

Ugur Tarlig, co-founder and CEO of swabr, believes that a substantial problem facing firms today is the sheer volume of emails that each person receives on a daily basis. He said: “The trouble with companies is that you open your email and have 50 messages – you don’t even want to see half of them.”

Building a Knowledge Base

Sending emails to large groups of people can also be problematic. “When someone forgets to ‘reply all’ the communication is broken,” Ugur added. “But swabrallows someone to join the platform whenever they want and they can see all the previous conversations in chronological order.”

Furthermore, swabr builds a knowledge base within specific organisations. Its users can update their colleagues on what they are working on and get help from people in different departments who they would perhaps not usually think to ask. They can also avoid repeating work done by others. “Companies use emails and intranet but they don’t use something like Facebook and consequently miss out on the social interaction side.”

But why use swabr and not one of the many similar enterprise micro blogging services, such as Wunderkit or Yammer? Two reasons, according to Ugur – firstly, other platforms try to do too much rather than focus on one thing, whereas swabr keeps everything simple.

Secondly, and most interestingly, is the fact swabr is a German company. “On sites like Facebook and Twitter, companies do not have maximum control of the platform and so they do not want to upload their private data,” Ugur said. But swabr encrypts data onto their file system, which only the central admin can access. “A lot of our competitors work according to US law and it helps that we are a German company, working alongside German laws and data protection because of all these issues in the US regarding privacy.”

Premium Features

Whatever the reason, there is certainly something about swabr that works – since entering public beta in December, some 1,000 companies in 76 countries across the world are already using the platform.

As for a business model, the free service is set to be joined by a subscription version with premium features, which Lukas Pfeiffer, fellow co-founder and head of marketing, said would cost around €2 or €3 per person per month.

One of these features will be what Ugur dubs “enterprise recognition,” offering suggestions and recommendations to enable users to work on projects with like-minded people. “If you are looking for a document that was posted a few months ago, the platform will suggest to you people, within your company, who posted on a similar topic. I think this is going to be the killer feature,” Ugur added.

The company’s top priority, however, is to launch its mobile app because, as Lukas said, “most of our users are outside, not in the office, but on their phone.”

Becoming the Facebook for companies is a big ask, especially in the face of stiff competition, but swabr will no doubt be approaching the future with a certain swagger in their step.