On Feb. 9, 2012, Dassault Systèmes, a French engineering firm best known for 3D and computer-aided design (CAD) software, fully acquired Netvibes for an estimated $26 million. (Dassault Systèmes has had a stake in Netvibes since mid-2010.) Founded by Tariq Krim in 2005, Netvibes began as a personal start or homepage, but instead of getting current news from the feeds, as was the case with My Yahoo! and iGoogle, users could define the topics for which news would be retrieved and presented in a single view (dashboard). Tabs at the top allowed people to track several topics with feeds selected to deliver targeted news for each.
In 2009, Netvibes introduced its real-time stream reader interface, Wasabi, which consolidated news feeds, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook streams. By 2010, users could pull up an instant dashboard that automatically collected all of the latest photos, videos, news, feeds, and search results based on a keyword/phrase. Netvibes’ enterprise approach to the dashboard allows organizations to tap into internal enterprise systems—think Salesforce—and social media, sharing in real time via the web. By mid-2010, 50% of the company’s revenues came from enterprise products, 40% came from premium dashboards, and the remaining 10% of revenues were derived from widget distribution. Companies, such as Coca-Cola, HP, Lufthansa, and McCann Worldgroup, and government agencies (e.g., Department of Energy) use Netvibes to provide “dashboard intelligence” to their staffs. As TechCrunch described it in 2010, “the enterprise version lets employees customize their intranet homepage with a mixture of company and personal widgets. Think iGoogle for businesses, pulling together different monitoring and analytics tools (such as Google Trends, Compete, Yelp, Hootsuite, and Trendrr) all into one dashboard.”
Netvibes now promotes itself as a sentiment analytics dashboard that allows companies to track their social media presence in real-time. Last year, Netvibes Social Pack gave brand managers the ability to monitor and analyze at the same time. Similar to Radian6, “the platform’s Social Corpus gives you open access to add and control exactly what sources (blogs, influencers, news feeds) to pull data from. Plus, Netvibes features a built-in library of more than 200,000 original content feeds and apps to choose from…. The enterprise dashboard isn’t cheap. The entire Social pack and Dashboard costs $15,000 for dashboard setup, then $2,000 per month.”
Private dashboards can be shared with others who have similar interests by enabling a public view with a single click. This makes Netvibes a valued free tool for corporate information professionals and librarians who want to shift from multiple saved search email alerts from a variety of resources to a single presentation format that is useful for many throughout their organization, or external to it. More than 4 million people each month use Netvibes to personalize news, Facebook, Twitter, photos, videos, and web apps, delivered to their desktop or mobile device (iPhone, iPad, and Android).
According to GigaOM, a rep for the company, stated in an email that, “our free product will remain free and available to our missions of users. What will change is that Netvibes can innovate even faster.” Dassault Systèmes has more than 135,000 customers worldwide.
Netvibes combined the concept of My Yahoo! with Yahoo! Pipes to deliver customized information feeds that would be of interest to groups of users (teams), organizations, or the public. For example, Shrewsbury and Telford Health Libraries created a publicly accessible start page for healthcare knowledge. The tabs at the top make switching from one specialty to another easy so that users can view all of the news in their areas of interest. (The libraries’ wiki page is designed to help others create their own personalized feeds, Using Web 2.0 for Current Awareness at http://teamknowledgeupdate.pbworks.com/w/page/26102018/Welcome.)
Among personalized news pages, Netvibes was the winner over Pageflakes, acquired in 2008 by Brad Greenspan’s Live Universe (better known as the founder of MySpace) for $3 million. (TechCrunch declared LiveUniverse officially dead in February 2009, and Pageflakes disappeared from the web in June 2010. For a chronicle of Pageflakes’ 10 fatal mistakes, see Phil Bradley’s weblog posting.)
If the measure is number of users, it’s difficult to see how personalized start pages, elegant as they are/were, will be able to compete with My Yahoo! or iGoogle in the future. If the tool is an enterprise dashboard, how does it compete with some of the web-based business intelligence (BI) tools taking advantage of the cloud, such as iDashboards or GoodData? Only time will tell.