Social networking isn't limited to the time-wasting antics of kids on Facebook and Friendster. A new Web site aims to turn business networking on its ear.
A prime tenet of all social networking sites is simple, a play on the six-degrees-of-separation meme: If everyone is only a few friends distant from everyone else, that girl you like — or your future boss — is just an e-mail away. Tracked.com wraps that concept in data analysis, creating a weird hybrid the company hopes will transform how business gets done.
Want to see which companies other widget manufacturers are investing in, or stay on top of trades of your company's performance? Curious about which stock the executive board just traded? The site lets you track activity in a certain industry or for a particular company, even for a specific person, and create custom feeds of data along the same lines.
At Tracked.com's heart is a massive database of information on public and private companies, including news, financial data, executive compensation, and more — the type of data you would find at sites like Yahoo, TechCrunch, or Google Finance.
It's somewhat unclear just where all that data comes from, especially the reams of information Tracked.com provides about private companies. Founder Michael Yavonditte told TechCrunch that he has “begged, borrowed and stolen” the data from other structured data sources and mashed it together.
But the data sources themselves are less interesting than what you can do with it all.
Tracked lists not just company performance but people who work there, as well. Drill down on Microsoft, for example, and you'll see the board of directors, founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and a lengthy list of key employees such as vice presidents and product managers. Other sites won't tell you that Microsoft's chief software architect Ray Ozzie is 53 years old, share his recent stock trades (unsurprisingly, Ozzie trades Microsoft), or show stories in the news about him.
The site also lets you pass along "objects" such as quotes, charts, public filings, and people with your connections.
The real value of a social networking site lies in the user base, of course, so Tracked's main obstacle is gaining market share in an already crowded market.
But for folks looking for more in a social networking site than a place where they can stay in touch with old friends and post their latest baby pictures, Tracked is literally in business.
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.