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.”