Startup Spotlight: The Global Workplace.com

The new world of networking: Will the computer network replace the old boys' network?

The Internet may have become most famous as a computer network for the masses, with its gigabytes of Pamela Anderson jpegs, but that's starting to change. Case in point: The Global Workplace.com (www.global-workplace.com), which launches on Thursday, is aiming to put something of the global computer network into the old boys' network.

This "exclusive worldwide appointments network", which started life as an electronic jobs market for the prestigious London Business School before a buyout by its co-founders, has signed up a host of other business schools -- from New Zealand and Hong Kong to the US -- to bring their alumnae into the pool of potential executives.

If you're, say, a multinational bank, the idea is that you can put a request through the system and find talented, experienced job applicants for any of your far-flung offices -- in Internet time. But is the school-tie brigade ready to exchange the smoke-filled back rooms for the world of point-and-click?

techTrader spoke to William Archer, the service's director and co-founder.

Why would someone use The Global Workplace.com instead of going to an executive recruiter?

What you don't get with us is the full lunch and all that selection process. This is a way of connecting directly with relevant people, getting directly in contact because they're interested in a position you have. In practice, it's a wider community than you'd get with individual headhunters. Also, you only pay if you recruit the right person, so it's cheaper.

There's still a role for headhunters -- if you needed to encourage somebody away from another job, for example, you'd use a recruiter in that context.

Are "exclusive" services the future of the Internet?

I don't know about that, but what we are seeing is a move towards communities, places you identify with, where you feel a sense of loyalty, of belonging. If you spend one to three years [at a business school], you'll have that sense of belonging to a community, and we're opening that up to an employer who wants to access that type of talent.

You're service is aimed at "high flyers", according to the press release. Who do you see as the ideal job applicant?

It's difficult to say a particular type of person. It could be somebody who's been working for one of the strategy houses in the UK and wants to move to Hong Kong or Spain, Portugal, Italy.

The other group this works well for are early-stage businesses -- startups -- who've suddenly got funding and are told to go and get some big hitters on board. Those people can see the benefits of having an experienced MBA from a top school on board. For people interested in making the transition into a new economy business, this is a natural connecting point.

Would you use the service yourself?

We're certainly looking for the right kind of talent ourselves. It wouldn't make sense to use another service to recruit.

What would be your advice to someone looking to start a dotcom business in the UK?

In the UK, we're living in a unique time. There's all this talk about how we're two years behind the States, but that's not a bad thing. We have all the opportunities the US market has already experienced still ahead of us here. I'd say to people now is the time to run with it, and not to spend too much time wondering about what's happening along the way.

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Startup Spotlight is a weekly feature on ZDNet UK News and ZDNet techTrader, featuring the bright sparks of the UK's high-tech startup industry. For more of the faces behind the news see the Startup Spotlight archive.