Over the weekend, unnamed sources informed the Financial Times that Facebook is secretly working on a version of its social website for businesses. This site, currently dubbed as "Facebook At Work," will compete with LinkedIn as well as Google Drive and Microsoft Office. That means the site will likely offer tools for creating and collaborating on documents, and storage for saving those documents.
For years, businesses have flocked to both Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with customers and business associates alike. Facebook At Work promises to feel and look like the popular social network. However, with the new site, workers will be able to keep their personal account separate from their business account so that personal info doesn't spill over into the business stream.
According to the report, the Facebook At Work project went into development sometime earlier this year, and is currently being tested with a number of companies. An official launch date is unknown at this point, but there's speculation that the site may go live sometime in the next several months.
The biggest competitor will be LinkedIn, which launched in 2003 as a social networking platform for business. In 2013, the networking site had more than 200 million registered users across the globe. By comparison, Facebook had more than 1.6 billion users as of September 14. Will Facebook At Work experience the same success as its popular sister site?
Like Facebook, the At Work version is expected to provide groups, a news feed, means to chat online, and a messaging system that could rival Google's Gmail and Microsoft's Outlook.com service. Facebook At Work will also likely provide a gallery feature for promoting products and collaborating on projects.
Right now, all of this is mere rumor and speculation. If Facebook plans to compete with the likes of Microsoft Office, the company will need built-in tools (open-source?) much like what Microsoft and Google already offer online. As for online storage space, Facebook may provide a larger capacity because (1) the company likely has the hardware to do so and (2) the company wants your business. Box comes to mind, which could be Facebook's biggest storage-related competitor.
What about the consumer side? There's a possibility that Facebook At Work features will eventually roll into the Facebook community. We already have a place to park our pictures; imagine other files that could be shared with friends and family, as well. Again, this is speculation, but this Facebook At Work launch may be a bigger thing than we can see at this present moment.
We've reached out to Facebook for comment.