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Summary:

Last week, Netvibes, a Paris-based web startup that allows people to assemble their personalized start pages, debuted new features such as adding multiple pages. The company, after a controversial early life, has been keeping a low profile. The new developments provided a good reason to catch […]

Last week, Netvibes, a Paris-based web startup that allows people to assemble their personalized start pages, debuted new features such as adding multiple pages. The company, after a controversial early life, has been keeping a low profile. The new developments provided a good reason to catch up with Freddy Mini, who took over as chief executive from founder Tariq Krim in June 2008.

Mini painted a picture of a company that is slowly firming its business and growing its revenue. After bringing in revenue of a couple of million dollars, the company is on track to triple its sales, thanks to signing up large corporate customers, many in Europe. “We are on our way to being breakeven this year,” Mini said. “We are focused on profitability this year.” That’s not bad, considering he is up against Google’s iGoogle platform. (Related: iGoogle vs Netvibes.)

Netvibes has over 3 million active users a month; many of them use white-label or corporate versions of the service. Netvibes gets about 400,000 unique active visitors every day. The company has three different revenue streams — selling the service to corporations that use it for their Intranets; offering it to advertising agencies that use special brand pages for their clients; and lastly, from advertising. Netvibes has more than 180,000 widgets, and many of these are sponsored by brand advertisers. Each install gets Netvibes between 50 cents and 75 cents.

“What we want to be is a personalization platform for the web,” said Mini, pointing to how the company is evolving from just being a startup page for the web. With data deluge on the rise, Netvibes can become a place where people aggregate their content. In addition to allowing people to add their content, Netvibes is going to be adding a recommendation engine, allowing people to discover content they want. “The next phase of the web is about hyper-personalization,” he said. “We want to help with that.”

Photo via Flickr courtesy of alexdecarvalho

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  1. Quite unexpected as they were not flooding the news as they used to some 2-3 years ago.

    Perhaps that the management is more serious now and less VIP kind of entrepreneur.

    Curious to know what is tariq krim new company status now.

    1. I think it is because the old/new guy is focusing on business and that takes a different approach than visionary approach many of us founders have. I think the company is pretty hard nosed and it has to justify its existence. The raised ample amount of VC money to grow up.

    2. Hi Tariq started a new project name Jollicloud an OS for Tablet like PC

  2. Windowslogy Monday, May 25, 2009

    I just wonder why would people pay for Neyvibes’ services while they can get the same or even better ones from Google for free. This kind of AOL’s services era is out of touch and dying out. Pretty soon, IGoogle will crush it anyway.

    1. You clearly didn’t read the article. There is a lot Google has to do before it can crush them. Google, on the other hand has not been that successful in everything it has done.

      Second part of your comment isn’t quite clear? How is the AOL’ service era stuff relate to Netvibes. Elaborate?

    2. Err, Netvibes is and has always been free for end-users. As the article explains, those who make for Netvibes’ revenues are companies willing to have that service branded for themselves.

  3. Kfir Pravda Monday, May 25, 2009

    I used Netvibes for a long time as my homepage. I read tons of RSS feeds and loved their ability to make my morning much more efficient. However their widgets were a bit too slow for me, so I was only using it as RSS reader. Then came Feedly, in I converted to Google Reader / Feedly over night. Its interface and responsiveness is much better than Netvibes.
    I am wokring on some web Dashboards for customers and would look again at Netvibes. But something, on a technical level, isn’t working that well there. It is too slow, and not well connected to other social networks.

    1. Kfir

      Check out Freddy’s comments in the last paragraph. I would pay attention to that and drop him a note as well.

      I do agree — Feedly totally rocks.

      1. Alexander Ainslie Om Malik Monday, May 25, 2009

        OM: I am interested in possibly using Netvibes in the context of a European portal for Not-for-Profit’s. Do you mind putting me in touch with Freddy? Thanks, @AAinslie

      2. Edwin Khodabakchian Om Malik Monday, May 25, 2009

        Thanks Kfir. Thanks Om. We are very big fans of GigaOM and would love to try to find a way to work more closely with you as feedly grows!

  4. Sanjay Maharaj Monday, May 25, 2009

    Good to see them zero in on doing what they know best and building the business around it which is thereason behind tripling of projected sales. Any idea on what their porjected sales will be?. Interesting revenue streams as well

  5. socialnerdia Monday, May 25, 2009

    Netvibes is great and I really like the new Multiple Personalized Pages they are launching tomorrow.

    Here’s our preview with screenshots:

    http://bit.ly/netvibesmpp

  6. Ted Rheingold Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Netvibes has always been a great company making great product with the global Internet user in mind. They had quite a lot of competition 2 years ago and the fact Google is the only one left of note says a lot about their success.

    What strikes me the most though is that many of the consumer facing companies that are just getting to profitability this year were already focusing on business customers before the crash. Even in 2008 it was very hard for a big Interent business to be profitable just on having a massive number of users. The long-tail may go on forever, but so rarely do we see it (at the moment) revenue scaling to make such businesses profitable. I find this fascinating and it’s something that I think will have to change. Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Twitter, Netvibes are all very popular and offer amazing robust services used by people around the world and yet that userbase and advertising alone can’t keep those sites in business. B2B is the new sexy (again ;)

  7. Netvibes is great and I think they did an amazing job building a different product from Google and democratizing web widgets. I think the product is now going in an opposite direction of what made the original success . I saw a Freddy Mini presentation at a conference in a French school the other month. As a first time user I was shocked to see this guy prostitute the company to brand and advertisers. I couldn’t recognize Netvibes. In my view they should have created a premium version and become profitable with their core audience. I heard its was the founder initial goal but he had no time to make it happen as the management team got him kicked out by the investors so they could take over the company. Sad story, I’ve switched to feedly too !

    1. @nicolas, what you call “prostitution”, for the rest of us is “revenues”. We live off that, try to be realistic and not be unsustaniable on VC money.

      Whats unsustainable? Facebook, Twitter, etc. Seriously, if they don’t “prostitute” out the company in a few years, they will continue on with funding “rounds” until investors get tired.

      Netvibes gets it.

    2. @Nicolas Sorry of I was not clear when you heard my presentation. Please allow me to try again.

      Netvibes is the ultimate Personalization Platform. We empower our users to decide what they want and don’t want on their pages. Our goal: All pages.

      There are two ways to foresee those Personalized (or personalizable) Pages: those you start from scratch and those you get pre-set by an authority you trust.
      The first category is netvibes.com. A Do-It-Yourself. A bottom-up personalization.
      The second category, is a way to make something yours made by someone else. A top-to-bottom personalization.

      An example? Say, you want to get your page about PR and communication? From above, solution #1, even better starting tomorrow, our Multiple Personalized Pages will allow you to create a new page without adding numerous tabs to your current one.

      Solution #2. Start with The Daily Influence’s Ogilvy Worldwide has created for you ( http://www.thedailyinfluence.com/ ) and personalize it.

      Cool, isn’t it?

  8. Freddy Mini Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Thanks for the article and thanks for your comments.

    @windowslogy As Om and Xavier point out, Netvibes.com is free for the end user and we’re 100% committed to continue to deliver the best personalized pages (plural is in fact a fantastic improvement as we’re launching the Multiple Personalized Pages tonight PST (http://blog.netvibes.com/?2009/05/25/274-multiple-personalized-pages)

    @kfir (et al), feel free to contact me at freddy [at] netvibes.com. I’m quite sure we can help :)

    @sanjay All about our business is at http://business.netvibes.com/ Contact me if question?

    @ted Thanks, you too are too quiet. share more :)

    Again, thanks a lot everyone.

  9. Enteprenuer in Austin Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    I love it – these guys are on track to triple revenue to what sounds like is still less than $10m a year. The VC’s tripped over themselves to throw money at this model and and yet, where’s the beef (revenue)? Its a shame that solid growth but less glamorous companies like mine meet with these same investors and get nada. Oh well, SOS.

  10. @freddy it is not cool. When you lead a European company that had the potential to become a leader in the consumer web and had a better product Google and a loads of financing. Are you such in a bad shape to end up selling white labels to who ever can pay? And even with that 2M seems very unimpressive.

    Don’t get me wrong i think revenues are important for startup , but here i don’t understand the complete switch of strategy

    Facebook, google or skype are not selling their source code or core expertise to make a living, they monetize their user base. Netvibes should have done the same in my opinion.

    1. Strange. I always thought that a company that makes money, with a solid offering, clear target market, that knows how to sell and has inroads to that market is a GOOD company. And one that has a business model that can be summed up in advertisement with long tail concepts, in a time like this is not a realistic one. Netvibes, IMHO, are going the right direction, with offering concrete value to a focused market segment.
      But then again, it might be just me.

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