Xing buys & grows its network

Update: LinkedIn is heading towards an IPO, hires ex-TiVo CFO as its CFO.

Different strokes for different social networking folks… while Facebook and LinkedIn are going the API route, trying to become platforms for others to build applications, Xing, a Hamburg, Germany-based business social network is focusing on its original premise: networking. Not that they don’t have an API, but because they want to focus on where the money is.

The company, which has about 250,000 paying customers, believes that connections are what matters the most. In addition to viral growth, the company is following a buy-and-grow strategy to add more oomph to its network.

“I think people have always paid for networking, at least business networking,” says Lars Hinrichs, chief executive officer and founder of the company. “Otherwise we wouldn’t go to trade fairs or conferences.”

xingstock.pngThe company, which went public on Frankfurt Stock Exchange earlier this year is planning to become a consolidator and using its public market currency and buying out smaller rivals. It is one way to use its hot currency – the stock is up over 50% from its IPO price of about 30 Euros a share.

“As a public company, we have the resources to consolidate the business, take over the local network and then integrate into the Xing network,” Hinrichs told us in a phone chat earlier this week.

The company recently acquired Neurona, a Spanish business network for an undisclosed amount of money. This was the second Spanish-language social network acquired by Xing. In March 2007, Xing had acquired eConozco, another small business focused social network. “We are currently focusing on Germany, Spanish-speaking market, the Chinese market and with the ZoomInfo deal into the English speaking business.” Hinrichs, explained that the company is growing virally in Italy and Holland.

When I asked him, with broadband location doesn’t matter, so why not try and expand internationally from their home base. “This business is not about translation, it is about localization, and adapting to local needs,” Hinrichs says.

Disclosure: Xing has been a sponsor of one of our networking events in the past.