Hold onto your hat because Friendster is BACK, y'all! And this time, it's personal. And in their superultracool new video promoting the new ultrasuperawesome site, they somehow manage to look even more outdated.
• After two very unsuccessful years as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, Ben Silverman is finally leaving the company. He's teaming up with Barry Diller's IAC to start some sort of vague media/advertising firm. He'll be replaced by Jeff Gaspin, who headed up NBC's cable unit until now. [NYT, NYT, DF]
• Disney's G-Force topped Harry Potter at the box office this weekend. [THR]
• Remember Friendster? It's up for sale, in case you're interested. [PC]
• HBO is the most "gay-friendly cable network," according to GLAAD. [Reuters]
Imitation is the sincerest form of getting rich. MySpace got bought early, on the cheap; Facebook has yet to cash out. Michael and Xochi Birch's sale of Bebo, a social network more popular overseas than in the U.S., to AOL for $850 million has been the best social-network cashout to date. And how did they manage it? Shamelessly copying other sites, Xochi Birch admits to the BBC.Ringo, their first social site, was an unabashed copy of Friendster. The husband-and-wife team sold that off to Monster, the job-listings site, for a pittance — but a pittance that provided the seed funding for Bebo, which Xochi openly says was inspired by MySpace. Copy early, copy often, sell out. (Photo by Auren Hoffman)
Yesterday, I met Gabriel Snyder, the former W Magazine writer who's starting as Gawker's new managing editor next week. We're coworkers, since Gawker Media publishes both Gawker and Valleywag. He seems nice enough. But one thing worries me: He has a Friendster profile, which was quite au courant in 2003. The profile, like the site itself, is seriously out of date, listing Snyder as single. He's engaged. Sorry, ladies.
I like how New York Times reporter Brad Stone ends his doom-and-gloom trend piece in today's paper — with a quote from a man who has more reason to be paranoid and jaded than most, failed Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams. Abrams, who now runs a six-person startup called Socializr, says he's prepared to “hunker down if things go bad," a scenario he's certainly familiar with. Then like some man on the corner wearing a sandwich board, Abrams rails against all what Stone describes as the "uninspired, copycat entrepreneurs" of Silicon Valley who are "obsessed with the internal gossip and minutiae of the industry."“The economy is tanking and people are arguing about whether they should go to Demo or TechCrunch,” Abrams told the Times. “Few companies sound like they are breaking new ground. It’s like, ‘Here is Twitter for dogs.’ And people still think they are going to get rich by being a blogger.” Hm. Twitter for dogs does sound pretty lame. But then, so did "Friendster for college students."
It seemed like only yesterday that Jonathan Abrams was waging an all-out war against "fakesters," or made-up public profiles on his social networking startup Friendster — because lord knows, we can't have people misrepresenting themselves on the Internet. Now it's Facebook's turn to play the heavy, with users of the PackRat application getting multiple accounts deleted. Players of the social card game were signing up under pseudonyms in order to give themselves an advantage in the social card game.Facebook has been notoriously stuck up about making sure users are identified strictly by their government names. Now both heavy users generating an excess of pageviews and an application developer that depends on the company's "platform" are feeling the wrath from above for sinning against the terms of service. Certainly the "tyrannical, omnipotent" style of divine rule didn't end up working so well for Friendster — Facebook is popular and growing, but punishing its most devoted acolytes like Job can't work in the long run.
Metrics firm ComScore reports that 132 million unique visitors logged onto Facebook in June 2008, up from just 52 million in June 2007. 117 million worldwide users visited MySpace during June 2008. Its Facebook's first definitive traffic victory, from a source advertisers actually pay attention to, over MySpace. Way down on the list at No. 6 — past the fast-growing Hi5, past still-kicking Friendster — there's AOL CEO Randy Falco's $850 million social network, Bebo, which saw 24 million visitors in June.
Richard Kimber, managing director of Southeast Asian operations at Google, won't be moving into the search giant's new Sydney offices. Instead, he'll serve as the new CEO of Friendster — probably enticed by a healthy share of the early social network's latest $20 million in venture capital. While it remains to be seen if Kimber can help the company's investors limp to liquidity (read: trolling for cash with Friendster's social network patents), he can probably introduce Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams to all sorts of Vietnamese hotties.
Coined by R. Stevens in his webcomic Diesel Sweeties, "social nerdwanking" means lording your social-network superiority over others, which is secretly the only reason you bother with Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Orkut, and every other social network. Except your legitimate if fruitless use of Adult FriendFinder.
VC blogger Fred Wilson gives Google and Yahoo too much credit: He's taking their "Inbox 2.0" initiatives to turn Gmail and Yahoo Mail into social networks seriously. He 's put together a chart comparing the "social graphs" — we think he means "number of users" — of some popular social networks versus Microsoft's Hotmail and AIM.com. Wilson estimates that Yahoo and Google, which aren't actually on the chart, have about 250 million and 60 million users. Here's the chart.
Word is quickly spreading that Google's OpenSocial is more of a PR triumph than engineering feat. Even partners, such as Friendster, for example, want to make sure you know that they were developing their own developer platforms well before word leaked about Google's plans. On top of that, yesterday we showed you a series of charts indicating just how insignificant many of these Google gang members are in relation to Facebook. Google apologists did not appreciate the imagery. Show us the aggregates! They demanded. Fine. Here's a new chart. But it's just going to teach you to be careful what you wish for.
According to a source, blog-software company Six Apart has joined as another partner for Google's OpenSocial platform. For those of you keeping count at home, don't bother. The list is surely to grow as word gets out. Social network Friendster, for example, wasn't asked to join the Google Gang. The pioneering social network begged to be included after a story leaked on TechCrunch. Google's secrecy is making the whole "open" affair less than transparent, as different names leak to different reporters. Here's a list of media outlets and the OpenSocial partners they list.