ED SAATCHI SCALES UP TO SOCIAL MEDIA IPO

IMAGINE logging on to Facebook and it already knows who your friends are, says Edward Saatchi, the red-headed son of the advertising legend Maurice Saatchi.

This is the idea behind the “social, data-driven” networking site that is NationalField, the business world’s answer to Facebook that launched in spring 2008 as a way of connecting staff on Obama’s election campaign trail.

Saatchi, 26, and his business partners Aharon Wasserman and Justin Lewis have got in early on the next big thing in Silicon Valley after cloud computing: social enterprise, or social software for businesses.

Facebook’s co-founder Chris Hughes sits on the board of the company, as does Sam Lawrence, the former chief marketing officer of Jive, the social network software firm that floated last Tuesday with a market valuation of more than $800m.

“There is a huge amount of market momentum,” says Saatchi, who is in talks with “a major technology firm” and one of the UK’s national newspaper groups to sign a deal to replace their intranets with his “Facebook for companies”. The site makes money by charging businesses set-up and running fees, and will next year open up to host public apps, from which it will take a percentage of the profits.

The founders hope to close series B funding with US venture capital firms by the end of June next year, following initial $1m investment from Microsoft, Google and DirecTV, and the eventual plan – after a few more rounds of funding – is to follow where Jive has led by going public. But Saatchi won’t give a target valuation for the IPO. “You can’t possibly think I am going to answer that,” he says. One for investment banking advisers to watch.

MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
HAS someone at Westfield’s PR company had one too many festive shandies?

It would indeed be a “service of convenience” if Westfield London opened until midnight on 23 and 24 August, as the mall’s spokesperson informed The Capitalist yesterday – just possibly not for some “last-minute” Christmas shopping.

Surprise, surprise, the PR firm in question, Yellow Door, had “enjoyed” its office party the previous evening.

SPECIAL TREATMENT
IF MAHIKI Dubai thought it could corner the market in cocktails in the United Arab Emirates it can think again.

Because hard on the heels of Mahiki’s launch in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on Monday (The Capitalist, 19 December) is a counter-move from its London rival Movida, which is opening “imminently” in the Radisson Royal Hotel (above).

“Movida is the club that Dubai has been longing for,” says the 500-capacity venue, which will contain two bars, 38 VIP tables and an exclusive private area “for those who prefer a little more privacy”.

Movida’s focus on VIPs may give it the edge among publicity-shy Emirates sheikhs – although it has the handicap of only being open three days a week, compared to “no special treatment” Mahiki’s seven. Let battle commence.

FLYING START
IT’S NOT called The Flying Trader for nothing – the racehorse owned by forex trader Greg Secker had its first win at Wolverhampton last Friday, finishing three lengths ahead to land Secker an early Christmas bonus of £4,205.

Although, to be more accurate, the prize money will be donated to Secker’s Knowledge For Action Foundation, whose highest-paying clients co-own the two-year-old colt trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam.

FIFTH TIME LUCKY
STAR jockey Ruby Walsh cost the subscription horse-racing channel Racing UK almost six figures when he won three races in a row at Cheltenham in March.

But the offer of a free subscription to the channel will be repeated on the one occasion Racing UK “will be happy to pay out” – if Kauto Star creates history by winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day for the fifth year in a row.

To take up the offer, which runs until midday on Monday 26 December, call 0844 472 5777 and quote Kauto Star.