Will Netvibes Widgetize Businesses Online? – Freddy Mini, CEO

Before meeting Freddy Mini, CEO of Netvibes, I thought that Netvibes was a fancy feed reader. At least that was what I got out of the service when I tried it out a few months (years?) back. Now I understand why Netvibes is so much more than that, and hopefully, after reading this article/watching this video, you will understand it too (if you don’t already).

Netvibes.com is like an iGoogle, i.e. a customizable Web portal. Netvibes main difference with iGoogle is that:

  1. It is not Google
  2. It allows many more customization features: page title, colors, choice of search engine, choice o f widgets, widget customization, tab customization…


To add content to my page, a smart wizard can kick things of by asking me a few questions about my interests, or I can browse the Netvibes’ widget directory, which contains almost 200,000 widgets. Some widgets are feeds form popular Websites such as Techcrunch, the NYT, the WashPost and so on, but other widgets are my gmail inbox, Twitter stream, Facebook profile. Once I install those widgets, I just sign in, and I am in permanent contact with all my contacts across all social networks.

That was part 1 of Netvibes. Now if you go to eco.netvibes.com, you cann search for widgets, and you can create widgets. I created the HyveUp widget for example, that I can post on my blog, and submit it to the Netvibes directory for others to find it.

As a publisher, it is in my interest to seek a wider distribution outlet for my content. However, out of the 200,000 widgets in the Netvibes directory, chances are I will be the only one who will have my widget installed on my homepage. This is where Netvibes created a first revenue stream. I can pay (on a CPI basis – cost per install) to appear on top of search results in the Netvibes directory of widgets. Freddy Mini reveals in the video how much is the price for this premium placement opportunity. With Netvibes, you do not pay for clicks, you pay for readers.

While this is all very interesting and smart, this is just the tip of the Netvibes’ iceberg.

Netvibes nurtures the belief that personalization is the starting point of engagement, and offers its engagement technology to brands. The Premium Universe product is an opportunity for any company to re-create the Netvibes experience on their homepage. An example of this is The Daily Influence, a Ogilvy Website with a Netvibes interface. Let’s say I like the Daily Influence (which I do), I can sign in with my Netvibes credentials, and start personalizing the homepage my own way. Or I can grab the widgets I like and put them in my personal Netvibes page.

In other words, I am now in full control of my Web experience.

For Ogilvy, using Netvibes really is just a branding operation (and maybe they control the content in some of those widgets). But what if Bank Of America’s homepage was powered by Netvibes? What if I could go to BofA’s Website, grab my account’s widget, and stick it in my personal homepage? Well technically, it is possible: Netvibes’ second product for businesses is Netvibes for Enterprise, a behind-the-firewall software that could enable BofA to pull its data from its servers and serve it Netvibes-style to its customers.

Of course, the BofA story is a fictional scenario… But it makes an awful lot of sense. One thing is worth mentioning that makes Netvibes’ widget distribution model more solid: a Netvibes’ widget is compatible with Apple’s dashboard, iGoogle, Opera, Windows Vista and Windows Live. Netvibes doesn’t want to be the unique widget-builder out there. Netvibes wants to be the gateway for companies to widgetize their business.