At first glance, 5050biz.com looks a lot like LinkedIn. So I asked the folks at 5050biz the obvious question: if I’m already on LinkedIn, as a lot of web workers are, what does 5050biz have to offer me?
5050biz calls itself a “virtual office,” and includes the following components.
- A social network, with features similar to LinkedIn and other networks.
- 1 GB of redundant, multi-hosted cloud storage for documents, with systems for sharing files. There are no online editing options, though, as Google Docs (s goog) and Zoho Docs have.
- Online text chat with members you have connected to, rather like Facebook Chat. This is web-only, not Jabber-based, so it can only be accessed at the 5050biz.com web site, not through any third-party chat client.
- User-created networks, similar to LinkedIn Groups.
- A system for managing shared and personal contacts. It only has a few editable fields, though, so its usefulness is limited.
- A GoToMeeting-style screen-sharing and conference room system.
- Business consulting services from 5050biz, like a calendar of workshops and a ‘Pro Team’ page, where professionals selected by 5050biz are available for consultation.
5050biz contends that its site can be used as an intranet, project management and/or CRM system. According to the folks I talked to at the site, it was designed for businesspeople who are perhaps less computer-savvy than most web workers. They think that such people will be willing to spend money for the convenience of an integrated experience.
This would be a stronger argument if the site was better organized. 5050biz suffers from an inconsistent interface between its various sections, and some parts of the site didn’t display correctly in certain browsers. Granted, the navigation in sites like LinkedIn could use some work, too, but its free version is much more feature-rich, and it has the major advantage of a huge user base.
I didn’t find any of the 5050biz site’s tools that compelling. Like a lot of “all-in-one” services, it tries to do many things, and ends up doing none of them very well. We’ve covered many of the types of tools 5050biz provides, a lot of them at little or no charge. Most web workers are already using tools in these categories, so most of us can easily assemble a suite of tools we like. 5050biz.com charges individuals $24.95 per month or $249 per year. Business groups of 5-100 people can join for $49.95 per month or $499 per year. There is a free version of the service, but its features are very limited. There is a 30-day free trial to anyone who wishes to try the service.
To be honest, I don’t know many web workers who would benefit from 5050biz. It’s possible that it might be of interest to some of our less technically-sophisticated clients. Yes, it’s nice to have several tools in one place, but for us, I don’t think that the minimal convenience is worth the cost.
What do you think of 5050biz?
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Social Media in the Enterprise