Facebook Launches New ‘Workplace’ Network

Facebook has launched a business version of its social media interface to compete with the growing number of office messaging tools. Dubbed Workplace, the service works very similarly to Facebook, but operates completely separately from its standard social media platform.

Beta-tested for two years under the name Facebook at Work, the service aims to best workplace communication platforms like Slack and Yammer that strive to replace emails with seamless messaging and file sharing between coworkers. Workplace offers many functions that Facebook users will be intimately familiar with – such as group discussions and a customized news feed – in addition to unlimited file storage and an app that offers voice and video calling.

On Monday when it announced the launch of the service, Facebook revealed it would charge a $3 monthly fee per active user for companies with 1,000 users or less. The fee drops to $2 between 1,000 and 10,000 users and then to $1 after that. While enterprise software companies typically charge for licenses (regardless of whether the software is used after it’s purchased), Facebook will only charge for active users who use Workplace. The company defines active users as those who will open and use Workplace at least once a month.

Workplace offers a completely separate login and app from Facebook’s normal login, with no ability currently to swap between personal and work accounts. The company also says it offers high-level security protection to protect sensitive company interactions and files. In addition, unlike its main interface, Workplace will be ad-free.

The company already has 1,000 companies from its Beta period, including Starbucks, the Royal Bank of Scotland, multinational food company Danone and more. But Facebook is very intent on reaching a global audience and a sizable portion of its 1.7 billion monthly active users, many of whom don’t fit the profile of businesses that lean on technology solutions. “We wanted to see how it would work in very conservative industries and government agencies,” Julien Codorniou, the head of Workplace, told TechCrunch. “We had to test the product in every possible geography and industry, especially the most conservative ones. We feel we are ready for primetime now.”