When it comes to networking, there is no shortage of ways to connect with other professionals. LinkedIn has become the most popular professional networking platform, with over 100 million users using the site to post their work experience, look for jobs, and connect with prospective employers. Facebook, too, has its own professional social network in BranchOut. When it comes to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, there traditionally haven’t been many substantial resources for gay professionals to network and make business connections, especially with other gay professionals.
Bill Stewart and Richard Klein co-founded dot429 to help address this problem. Tagging itself the “Gay LinkedIn,” the San Francisco startup set out to build a platform that would offer gay professionals a more robust alternative option to networking on LinkedIn.
While discrimination and intolerance remain entrenched across the planet, dot429 Founder and CEO Richard Klein tells TechCrunch that the LGBT movement has been on the brink of a new era, as it transitions “from acceptance to cultural leadership.” Klein said that, as a result, gay professionals are increasingly looking for richer ways to help connect their careers and their lives, and both the community and the country at large are at a point where a network facilitating this kind of connectivity has the chance to make an impact. And in that sense, dot429 is aiming to be more than just the “gay LinkedIn,” as its service has become a hybrid: Part social network, part LinkedIn, part events company and publishing platform.
Beyond connecting online and offline networking, the startup will introduce a mentoring section later this year to match mentors with mentees, along with an online collaboration tool. The startup is also undergoing a major editorial redesign (the site has both video and eMagazine components), and has brought on “an editor from a pulitzer prize winning paper who has written for the New York Times and New York Observer” to lead the editorial department.