An entrepreneur takes on LinkedIn – and Facebook

The Facebook logo is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Entrepreneur Rick Marini has a lot to be thankful for, including smart, connected friends who’ve supported him in the launch of two of his businesses. The most recent of these is BranchOut, which leverages Facebook to help people find business connections and that has an enviable list of backers and advisers.

Marini may soon need them more than ever.

The 38-year-old entrepreneur first benefited from close ties when he and his best friend from Harvard Business School, James Currier, created Tickle back in 1999. The company — which raised $9 million, mostly from August Capital — leveraged viral marketing to become an immensely popular purveyor of intelligence, matchmaking, and personality quizzes. It sold to the jobs colossus Monster in 2004 for roughly $100 million.

Marini’s friends have more recently come to his aid with BranchOut, a 20-person, San Francisco-based company that started life as a social entertainment site called SuperFan in 2008. The bootstrapped service struggled until last summer, when a friend of Marini asked for an introduction for a sales lead to a company. As Marini recalls now: “I couldn’t remember who in my Facebook graph worked for that company and typing in the company name took me to its Facebook fan page.”

Figuring out Foursquare

– Jeff Bussgang is a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School. He is the author of “Mastering the VC Game”. This article originally appeared on his blog www.seeingbothsides.com. The views expressed are his own. –

I had the pleasure of teaching a new case at Harvard Business School recently on Foursquare that I co-authored with professors Tom Eisenmann and Mikolaj Piskorski as part of Tom’s new course “Launching Technology Ventures“.

Foursquare executives Dennis Crowley, Naveen Selvadurai and Evan Cohen were kind enough to allow us to interview them in preparation for the case, which framed some of their current key strategic issues and looked back on the choices they made in the early days to draw pedagogical lessons of lean startup best practices, building a platform business, network effects and running monetization experiments.