Seattle-Area Social Networking Sites Roll Out Plans to Drum Up New Business

Two of the area’s more interesting social-networking startups are announcing new product offerings today. Each has been quietly building its business this year without a lot of fanfare. One plays in the professional networking arena, while the other focuses on families and friends. Both need to drum up new users in a tough economic climate.

—Tacoma, WA-based Konnects, a business networking site that incorporates social aspects like online chat, is rolling out a bunch of new features today. The latest version of the site lets users broadcast updates about what they’re doing, like attending a meeting, say. Customers can also receive notifications about tasks that need to be done or get updates about recent activity in their network (e.g., who posted a blog or got a recommendation).

Konnects bills itself as a cross between LinkedIn and Facebook, and has registered users in more than 100 countries (most are in the U.S. and India). “The new real-time communications and collaboration tools we added today offer more connectivity and interactivity capabilities for our global network of users to meet, share information and conduct business,” said Konnects co-founder and CEO Jim Crabbe, in a statement.

—Redmond, WA-based Sampa, a service designed to help families and friends create personalized websites to stay connected, is announcing its “Karma” program today. “It’s a program to boost our revenue by giving some of it away to charity on behalf of our users,” says Marcelo Calbucci, Sampa’s co-founder and CTO. “The idea came to us when we were looking at ways to accelerate our monetization plan in light of the difficult economic climate for startups.”

Here’s how it works. When people add new content, invite new visitors, or otherwise update their site above a certain activity threshold, Sampa will donate 10 percent of that site’s revenue for the month to a charity of the user’s choice—so everyone wins. So far, the approved charities include the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Humane Society of the United States, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and UNICEF. Sampa has been used to create more than 130,000 websites so far.

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