Facebook set to challenge rivals with new office chat system
Facebook is set to take on LinkedIn and Google with a new office service called 'Facebook at Work'.
The company is secretly working on the software, which will allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with contacts and collaborate on documents, according to the 'Financial Times'.
The site will be visually similar to Facebook, with a newsfeed and groups, but users will be able to keep their personal profile private.
The launch of such a site would place Facebook in direct competition with professional social network LinkedIn and Google's range of online collaboration applications.
The concept of 'Facebook at Work' was first reported by TechCrunch earlier this year, who revealed that the project is being developed by employees in London.
"We are making work more fun and efficient by building an at-work version of Facebook," a source told the technology website at the time.
"We will touch code throughout the stack and on all platforms (web, iOS, Android, etc.)."
It is not known when the professional site will launch, but it will reportedly be free - at least initially.
'Facebook at Work' will allow users to chat with their colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents, the 'Financial Times' said.
Facebook declined a request for comment.
Though it would look a lot like the Facebook site used by more than one 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. 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. 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 is also a fierce competitor in the shared documents space with Google Drive. LinkedIn's main selling point is its ability to connect users with future jobs, employees and clients.
Facebook, which is currently in talks with the satellite operator Avanti over a ground-breaking project to provide free internet access across swathes of Africa, has 1.35 billion users.