Facebook said to plan site to rival Microsoft Office

SAN MATEO - Facebook is secretly working on a new company-focused website that's designed to compete with Microsoft Office, LinkedIn and offerings from Google, reported the Financial Times, which cited people familiar with the matter.


The new product, dubbed Facebook at Work, would allow users to chat with their colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents, wrote the FT on its website late Sunday.


A spokesperson for Facebook (TICKER: FB) didn't immediately respond for a request for comment.


Though it would look a lot like the Facebook site used by more than 1 billion people, Facebook at Work would allow users to keep their personal profile separate from their work identity. Facebook staff, many of whom use the site in their daily work, have long kicked around the idea of spreading it to other companies, wrote the FT. The new site is now being tested with some companies.


A site that would allow users to chat in select groups and collaborate over shared projects would be a direct competitor to Microsoft ( MSFT). Microsoft's Office 365 offering, which operates off the cloud, includes Yammer - an internal corporate chat service that it bought in 2012 - as well as OneDrive and SharePoint for document sharing. Google GOOG is also a fierce competitor in the shared documents space with Google Drive. LinkedIn's LNKD main selling point is its ability to connect users with future jobs, employees and clients. And several private companies also compete in this space, including cloud file-sharing site DropBox and corporate chat site Slack.



Facebook is unlikely to charge for the service initially, reported the FT. It may try to appeal to companies that have tried to cut down on the time their employees spend on personal social media by an outright Facebook ban.


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