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Friendster's Rise and Fall 215

ThinkComp writes "A few weeks ago I wrote an open letter to my former friend from school, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, telling him to take Yahoo's money before it's too late. It was meant partly as a joke, and partly as a way to set the record straight on his company's origins, since in financial terms he'll be fine no matter what happens. Now the New York Times has written a story on Friendster, the social network no one talks about anymore. It seems that while history repeats itself every few decades in the global scheme of things, the period of recurrence in Silicon Valley is quite a bit shorter. The moral here: take the billion dollars while you still can."
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Friendster's Rise and Fall

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  • sixdegrees (Score:5, Insightful)

    by megaversal ( 229407 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:17PM (#16447679)
    Does no one remember sixdegrees? The social networking site back in the mid-90's? Nothing? Nobody?
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:20PM (#16447709) Homepage

    Friendster isn't the only network being overshadowed by MySpace. There's also Orkut [orkut.com] and the exceedingly lame Hi5 [slashdot.org], which are very popular in certain regions of the world even as most Americans have never heard of them. Of course, most Slashdot users know that Orkut is overwhelmingly Brazilian, and the language of most discussion forums (and of the woefully common spam) is Portuguese, but Orkut also caught on in Estonia. Meanwhile, Hi5 seems to have attracted quite a crowd of Romanians and Bulgarians.

    I suspect MySpace became so popular for the same reason as LiveJournal: users can pick skins for their personal pages, and for some strange reason American teenagers really dig unreadability. Friendster tried to target a general American crowd but didn't offer this vital feature. And the other social networking sites are big in places where the aesthetic values of the American teen don't apply.

    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @08:21PM (#16448107) Homepage
      The other reason why MySpace is popular is because the utility of the service is directly proportional to the number of people on it. I met a co-worker's sister the other day, and that night she sent me a MySpace friend request. I didn't hear anything through Tribe or Orkut because she wasn't on tribe and her brother (whom she found me through) wasn't on Orkut. So now that MySpace is dominant, it's nearly impossible for anyone else to break in. You don't go to another service because it has the features you're looking for, you'd go because all of your friends were on it.

      It's like Instant Messaging. Jabber is clearly the superior standard on nearly every axis. But everyone you know is on AIM or Messenger. So you use the service that your friends are on, because the people on the service are the largest feature provided.

      • by rsidd ( 6328 )

        Jabber is clearly the superior standard on nearly every axis. But everyone you know is on AIM or Messenger.

        Nobody I know is on AIM (I don't live in the US). Quite a few people I know are on Google Talk, which is basically Jabber. How did Google get people to actually use its messaging service? By integrating it with their email: you can see from your mail window in your web browser which contacts are online, and message them directly from the browser. Clever.

      • by Dan Guisinger ( 15506 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:04AM (#16449403) Homepage
        It would be nice to see Myspace put out.

        They are constantly having reliability issues....and their security sucks. The fact that you can insert java script into a message that brings someone to a fishing page is rediculous.

        And they also don't even attempt to verify that a person is a person (unlike facebook which uses an EDU email --OR-- a mobile phone text message). Someone this past week setup a fake account (of whom I have no idea who it was), put many a sentances speaking many false and offensive statements about me using my full name, and then invited my whole friends list to become their friend. You can't easily do this on some of the other services; and to make it worse, when asking Myspace to take it down, when its clearly a fake account, they don't do anything.

        • And they also don't even attempt to verify that a person is a person (unlike facebook which uses an EDU email --OR-- a mobile phone text message).

          Facebook's mobile phone verification, while good in execution, has a pretty bad vulnerability. Because they don't know how long an SMS will take to deliver, nor do they want to lock out users until the message comes through, they provide a period of one month in which you can create an account without verifying your humanness.

          This means that anyone - including a s
      • You mean "even though most of your friends are on ICQ or MSN, those that really matter are smart enough to use Jabber and thus you wonder why you maintain your own Jabber server just to be able to use the pyMSNt transport".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Heembo ( 916647 )
        Or use Trillian and have all IM's clients integrated into one uber-client.
      • Clearly the flaw with all these sites is that they are all gated communities which don't play nicely together. When one starts to wane, you must (if you want to carry on taking part) register on another and re-enter everything. You are also at the mercy of whatever your service provider wants to give you, which basically means the set of features that "those damn kids" want.

        Why has no-one yet come up with a good way to do this stuff in a decentralized manner? It doesn't really seem like a very complicated

      • It's like Instant Messaging. Jabber is clearly the superior standard on nearly every axis. But everyone you know is on AIM or Messenger. So you use the service that your friends are on, because the people on the service are the largest feature provided.

        That's probably where Google has been really smart. Maybe they realised this fact and that's why they integrated gchat into gmail. Lost of people have gmail accounts but they probably never used gchat until it was integrated into gmail.

      • But the real question is how did it get so big in the first place? Before it reached that critical mass, how did it grow so quickly? I think the answer is that it is the only one that allows nearly complete freedom for its users. Meaning that the same reason everyone hates myspace (the inconsistency and terribly low quality of the pages) is the same reason the users love it. The kids on myspace want to customize their pages, they don't want someone enforcing that the pages look good to some corporate id
    • by aikizensurfer ( 1014039 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @08:53PM (#16448303)
      It depends on how you define "failure" Actually friendster is alive and well in Asia especially in the Philippines. It's actually expanded it's market demographic here to include not only young teens and college students, but also 30 somethings who are trying to re-connect with old aquaintances. It's also functioning as a de facto craig's list which is actually makes sense since you are able to get a better perspective of the poster, aside from just a email address. That being said, it is showing it's age by not having the additional functionality of say a mutliply or yahoo 360. The thing is that there is a minimal North American market for it anymore, so that is why the US press regards it as a "failure". Personally though, if i was in their position at that time, I would have" taken the money and ran " :)
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by j3tt ( 859525 )
        you're probably from the Philippines just like me.

        To add to aikizensurfer's post .... what's interesting is that they've added (via third parties?) add on services such as Classifieds (payable via the local telcos payment through SMS), and flower delivery. I don't know though if these features are also offered elsewhere.

        A lot of folks here are on Friendster. I always get a kick out of chatting with somebody from the Yahoo chatrooms (yes, Yahoo is the popular IM client here) and then pretending I know them b
      • Don't tell me they have Pinoygrams! :)
    • by telbij ( 465356 ) *

      I suspect MySpace became so popular for the same reason as LiveJournal: users can pick skins for their personal pages, and for some strange reason American teenagers really dig unreadability

      My own suspicion is that myspace succeeded primarily by targetting itself as a marketing medium for bands. The first hundred times I went to MySpace were to reference a band. I think this sucked a lot of people in (like myself) who have no interest in social networking per se. Of course, I do value the social networki

  • FaceBook (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:23PM (#16447721) Journal
    A lot of people use FaceBook, despite thinking that it has jumped the shark.

    They were smart though. Advertising was part of FaceBook from the beginning & it isn't overly intrusive.
    • by Seoulstriker ( 748895 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:34PM (#16447817)
      The authors and editors are seriously disconnected from reality if they think Facebook is jumping the shark. Almost everyone on a college campus is on it.
      • by Elm Tree ( 17570 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:51PM (#16447917) Homepage
        Jumping the shark doesn't imply that it's dead, just that it's passed its peak. There's been a significant amount of protest recently over changes they've made, and they're starting to alienate the early adopters, etc. Suggesting that the site may be slowing down.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Firehed ( 942385 )
          Well, I've heard that about a million users (of around 9.5M, IIRC) have dropped off since they opened it up to everyone. Which was only a few weeks ago. Slowing down may be somewhat of an understatement.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 15, 2006 @09:18PM (#16448487)
          Talking about the protest and "alienating early adopters" shows your disconnection. The protest brought people _back_ to Facebook. People had stopped using it, heard about the feed, went to look and realized it was actually a good thing.

          I don't think you understand how huge Facebook is. If you are at _any_ college or university in the United States, 95+% of the people you know there are on Facebook. This isn't MySpace where techie people snub it for it's simplicity and general silliness. Their market share of that demographic is probably higher than that of MSIE at it's absolute peak.

          The article says that the demographic group has no purchasing power...and he doesn't know what he's talking about. Go count iPods on campus. Go count graphic tees. Count cars in the parking lot. See if you can estimate alcohol consumption (tip: double whatever estimate you came up with). There's not a lot of money in this group, but it is spent very largely in ways that are very interesting to corporations.

          Beyond pure purchasing power, try to imagine the power of the _network_. If you try to treat Facebook as a website and advertise in that way, then you've already lost. The power of Facebook is the fact that these 9 million people are interconnected and all reflect on each other.

          For example: if you advertise by measuring the number of views an ad gets, you've lost. What you want to do is split up the users into groups. One set of divisions would identify placement within the social structure: two levels of trend-starters and a couple levels of late-adopters. Thanks to the wealth of information, this can be done based on movies, tv shows, books, quotes, clubs, etc, if Facebook watches how these things spread through profiles. Find out who starts the groups that everyone joins.

          Another way would be to divide groups such that each social cluster is split into 4-5 equal groups. That way, advertisers can hit each social cluster for a week. The buzz about their product will continue, but they won't be wasting money hitting the same people over and over until they just ignore the ad.

          And saying that Facebook is being offered $100 per user is a rather ridiculous measurement. A great part of Facebook's strength comes from it's constant renewal: It's so ubiquitous that all incoming freshman sign up as soon as they hear about it. Bam! there's another million users, each year, growing the network.

          Mark Zuck. is right not to sell, IMO. There is no way to tell what will happen to the company once it is out of his hands. Not selling, to me, shows that he's realized that he's probably got enough money to last him for life, and that he's now more interested in protecting his project and maintaining a site that the college student in him would want to use.
          • The protest brought people _back_ to Facebook. People had stopped using it, heard about the feed, went to look and realized it was actually a good thing.

            Logical leap here - is this number greater than the estimated million users who /left/ as a result of this?

            Beyond pure purchasing power, try to imagine the power of the _network_. If you try to treat Facebook as a website and advertise in that way, then you've already lost. The power of Facebook is the fact that these 9 million people are interconnected an

      • Any social network founder that's willing to pass up $100 per user is "seriously disconnected from reality". In order to earn that much in ad revenue per user, each user would have to click ~400 ads over the site's lifetime assuming a very generous 25 cents/click. That, or you have to assume exponential growth of users will continue indefinitely. Riiight. And I don't even want to know what their bandwidth bills are like for all the images they host. I seem to remember this business model from a few years ag
        • Your post, and many of the comments along this line, completely ignore the possibility that the guys decision making might have been motivated by something other than money. My girlfriend's dad could make a lot more money by selling his farm than he will by milking the cows every morning at six, and every evening at six, for the rest of his life... but the guy really likes his work. Maybe the author's just dont want to lose control of their creation.
  • Before it cools off!
  • MySpace's fall (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Salvance ( 1014001 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:25PM (#16447749) Homepage Journal
    Just as friendster, six degrees, MSN spaces, and others have all fallen, so will MySpace. Has anyone recognized how many fake 'friends', bots, and advertising have invaded MySpace? All of a sudden you sign up and have 1000 friend requests from people you don't know, just to find out that they're all advertisers selling web dating services and strip shows. Anything that's "cool" can't stay cool for long. Can anyone name a fad that remained popular with teenagers for over a year?
    • Re:MySpace's fall (Score:4, Insightful)

      by revlayle ( 964221 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:28PM (#16447773) Homepage
      Rock 'n Roll?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zamboni1138 ( 308944 )
      Dangerous car driving.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Although the MySpace empire may well topple if kids move on to the next big thing, I'm not sure it's for the criticisms you cite. Why? Every one f those can be directly applied to a larger beast called "the internet" and its subsidiary "e-mail". Its not as if these are going out of fashion because of the issues we face with spam, viruses and all the other pleasures of the net's digital underbelly. My hope is that as internet content creation becomes more accessible, people will become empowered to design t
    • Tamagotchi and Mood Shirts! There's two! ...

      What?
    • by sd_diamond ( 839492 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @08:51PM (#16448293) Homepage

      Can anyone name a fad that remained popular with teenagers for over a year?

      Oral Sex?

    • Rebellion...for it's own sake?
    • by /dev/trash ( 182850 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @09:08PM (#16448413) Homepage Journal
      I joined 2 months ago, and I have yet to have a legit real person ask to be a 'friend'. 45 cam hoes though.
    • MySpace isn't going away. People like the unrestricted freedom the MySpace has, unlike most of the other social networking sites that preceeded it. If anyone is in free fall, it's got to be dating sites like Match.com et al, who offer most of the same features of MySpace but make you pay. There is no longer any reason to pay for Match.com, except for ignorance of the free sites that are available.

      That being said, I feel like MySpace has become the KMart of the internet, and by that I mean the quality of peo
    • by cgenman ( 325138 )
      E-mail? Video gaming? Movies? Drugs? Raving? Star Wars? AIM?
    • Can anyone name a fad that remained popular with teenagers for over a year?

      Sex drugs and rock n' roll!
    • by drew ( 2081 )
      Can anyone name a fad that remained popular with teenagers for over a year?


      Of course not...

      Then it wouldn't be a fad.
  • by marco13185 ( 888912 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:27PM (#16447771)
    Is it me, or are Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo practicing corporate imperialism? They buy out tons of small companies and most likely prevent further innovations. At this rate, the three companies will own all of these "unique" sites and make it difficult for competitors to break into the market, if not impossible. Yes, Google's motto is "Don't be evil", but seeing from how they've assisted the Chinese government in massive censorship, I doubt they still follow it internally.

    One of the few Web 2.0 sites I can think of that isn't owned by these giants is meebo.com, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone bought them out soon. The era of the small internet "company" which participates in true interaction with users is coming to an end. Google may be innovative now, but corporate laziness will eventually set in and the overall quality of work will eventually decrease, similar to what happened in Microsoft.
    • Google doesn't even pitch its own social-networking site, let alone try to obstruct others. Those who tried to make something of Orkut are horrified at the flood of spam, the frequent failure of the server, the open pornography, and getting jumped on by Brazilians for posting in English in a forum marked "Language: English". There's no attention paid to the site by its founders.
    • How are they going to keep compeditors out on the internet especially ones focused on one thing? A lot of search engines got killed by Google, then Google expanded into their other buisnesses. When you have a lot of competing projects angling for resources you get problems. And it only takes 1 good idea to beat a lot of incremental improvements.
    • At some level, they're just outsourcing their R&D. Microsoft used this to great effect during the '90s. Need a DBMS? Buy Sybase, repackage it as MSSQLServer, and you're done. Need a web browser? Obtain Mosaic, and you're done. You can grow the product later, but at least you're playing. So, before the buyouts, let the market figure out who the bigger players are, and buy the biggest one still available. Everything else doesn't really matter. There are a couple of things in play here.

      1) User ba
    • I don't think it is entirely corporate imperialism (though likely that is a factor).

      For example, before Google there was Altavista. Hands up everyone who has used Altavista in the past 5 years. Exactly. Web things are still fickle - you can be the biggest site on the net today, and toast tommorrow. A new search technology comes along and Google could crash and burn if it relied on that alone. Startups are small, fast and can turn on a dime to attract new customers, corporations are like turning supertank
    • Imperialism? Let's say I accept your charge. What should the government of our society do about it?
  • Profit (Score:2, Funny)

    by cuteseal ( 794590 )
    1. Develop awesome social network site 2. Turn down multi-million(billion?) dollar offers
    3. Get overshadowed by copycat
    4. Slowly fade out of existence
    5. Profit!

    Err... wait...

  • by Bamafan77 ( 565893 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @07:32PM (#16447811)
    The guy (Abrams, founder of friendster) rolled the dice and tried to hold out for something better and, as far as we know, he missed out. Big deal. The guy is probably still extremely well off (if not an outright multi-millionaire) and it seems more than a little silly for us (read: people who will never be offered 1/1000th this amount for anything we produce) to be telling this guy what to do with his toy.

    That's life -- sometimes you need to roll the dice to see what happens. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I personally believe rolling the dice is more fun than always doing the Smart Thing (note: really should be called doing the Average Thing since the Smart Thing seems to be defined as doing what everyone else would do). Unless you're talking about life and death situations, it's really no Big Deal. Silly online networking sites definitely don't count as Big Deals. :)

    (Aside: I personally don't believe in "winning" and "losing" when it comes to stuff like this. There's only learning. Anyway, I'll get off my philosophical high horse. :) )

  • Remember Tribe? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @08:01PM (#16447975) Homepage

    Tribe was bought by News Corp (Rupert Murdoch's company) a few months ago. He seems to have bought near the top. Many of the staff left. The recent site redesign (New! Web 2.0!) was something of a flop. Currently, the most active tribe seems to be "Tribe.net bug reports". Alexa traffic rankings [alexa.com] show that Tribe.net peaked around January 2006. It's been downhill since. The current traffic level is about half the peak.

    These things work like fads. Remember Nerve.com? Peaked in early 2002 [alexa.com] at 4x the present level. They're still around, but nobody cares much.

    There's a death spiral to these things. When traffic drops off, so does revenue. Then there's a frantic attempt to boost revenue by making the ads more intrusive, usually accompanied by layoffs. This drives away users.

    Live by the click, die by the click.

    • by robogun ( 466062 )
      Webshots also did a 2.0 facelift that renders the site almost unusable. It views all jumbled unless you come in with IE and all the safety turned off. But it does look cool if you do.
    • Tribe was bought by News Corp (Rupert Murdoch's company) a few months ago.

      You got a cite for this, or are you confusing Tribe with MySpace?

  • Anyone offered dot-com style money for what is purely and simply a dot-com business should take it and run. Period.

    Just like all the old dot-com bankrupts who no-one ever speaks of these days, facebook (and friends) have no real business model (advertising offers only a pitifully small revenue stream) and no guarentee that someone else isn't going to come along and steal all there users away long before the company starts actually making a profit.

    Like the guy's letter says, it is amazing how the dot.com bub
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 )
      Instead, I think MyBubble is quite different than BuyBubble the first time around. As I see it, Bubble 1.0 was all about "Can we trade StoreFront rent (Location, Location, Location = expensive) into our profit margin?" A 1.0 site stocked a warehouse say in three funky locations where space is cheap, then DropShipped stuff to customers ordering remotely.

      Problem developed, only the small (5%-ish?) experts made it work, a huge swath "spent little, did little", and the remainder spent gloriously ... and croaked
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 )
      I bet it's even the same secretive stockbrokers and equity fund managers making the money before it all crashes again.

            That's ok. I can make money on the way down, too.
  • One word: Pointcast (Score:2, Interesting)

    by UncleSocks ( 243734 )
    "At its height in 1997, the directors of PointCast reportedly spurned an offer of $450 million from News Corp for the company. They hoped to go public for a larger amount, but never did."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PointCast [wikipedia.org]

  • by BRUTICUS ( 325520 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @08:19PM (#16448101)
    I had lots of friends on Friendster in '03 Friendster was a beter looking site and the domain name was much catchier I had a few friends on Myspace but Myspace was about 5 times faster. SPEED is such a vital element to the success of any website. Look at Google. Google prided itself on being a search engine with the slimmest, cleanest code. Why did you choose google over any other site?
    • by fermion ( 181285 ) *
      Uh, many switched to google because Altavista used keywords, and keywords became a useless index tool as webmasters started putting every major word on every page.

      Even with Google's speed, another search engine could overtake it if a new search technology could be developed. Ad farms have made Google significantly less useful, and since google now primarily serves ads, i does not seem to be that concerned about search beyond what is necessary to drive the ads. OTOH, the barriers to entry are much great

  • by bangzilla ( 534214 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @08:24PM (#16448135) Journal
    Remember Pointcast. At it's height it was valued at over $240 million (this was the mid 90's - that was a lot of money at that time for an Internet company). Now *poof* gone. The founders hung on for the *big* payout only to watch their company die on the vine. Here's a Business Week article from 1999 http://www.businessweek.com/1999/99_17/b3626167.ht m [businessweek.com] that chronicles Pointcast's rise and fall. Take the money and run. Don't be greedy. How many billions of dollars do you really need?
    • Take the money and run. Don't be greedy. How many billions of dollars do you really need?

      Maybe you have bigger plans [xprize.org] for the money? Anousheh isn't the only one spending buyout dollars on modern philanthropy.
  • Yesterday I wrote up a piece on my blog [blogspot.com] about Google buying YouTube. I wrote:

    My second issue has to do with the low cost of switching on the internet. As a consumer it costs me nothing to type a different search engine into the browser. Likewise, I can switch from Friendster to Facebook to LinkedIn with not cost to me. I can even visit all of them in turn if I want. I believe this leads to some sites, like social networking sites and YouTube having very low consumer loyalty. These places are like the "hot"

    • To be fair, social networking sites have fairly strong network externalities, which creates a barrier to entry if you have a big user base (i.e. MySpace). This means that the more users they have, the more utility they provide.

      The problem is that the switching costs are so low I don't know how much it matters. All it takes is one leading group of folks to switch over together to a new social networking site and eventually others will follow. And - well, you don't even have to switch, you can just create
      • IMHO Google didn't need to pimp up Google Video. because as it is, it's far far superior to YouTube. I loathe flash as a video format. Flash is for animation But Google Video is available in high quality MPEG4.
  • Amongst my friends 25 and older, almost everyone still uses Friendster, and logs in at least once a week. Almost noone uses Myspace or Facebook.

    Then there's LinkedIn, but that's more for business rather than social networking.

    Beneath that age, yes, things seem to reverse themselves...
  • There's another up and coming contender in this space: think social networking meets del.icio.us-style bookmarking.

    Fanpop is a site for fans of anything and everything to find community and content around the stuff they care about by contributing and rating links and discussions.

    Whether it be about their favorite TV show like Lost or Grey's Anatomy or their home city like San Francisco or New York, users can find other people who share their passion and discover all kinds of relevant content from videos, bl
  • Facebook has something that none of the others ever had: it scales upward. Friendster was interesting at first, but as more and more people joined, it got slower and slower, to the point that it was unbearable. Eventually, people switched to the faster MySpace -- unfortunately, MySpace was only faster because it had less users. Since then, as MySpace has grown, it has gotten much slower, and quite often is unreachable for minutes at a time. I can't remember a point of time that I logged onto MySpace and eve
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @08:55PM (#16448309) Journal
    It strikes me as a bit odd that these social networking sites all seem to be concerned with having massive marketshare, when in reality, they all seem doomed from the start to either finding a comfortable niche, or fading away.

    MySpace, Friendster, and the others seem to be aiming to be THE site to use to connect with anybody else out there in the world, for any reason. But the topics and people that interest the teenage crowd are vastly different than the ones that interest, say, retirees or 30-somethings.

    It seems like the way to go is to focus on one area where you can shine, and accept the fact that the people not fitting into that demographic probably won't be one of your users. That's what Facebook originally had going for it, but they blew it by opening themselves up to everybody - and I think time will bear out the fact that it diluted their "potency".

    MySpace probably should have looked closely at their usage trends, early in the game, and said "Hey - right now, we're mostly drawing the under 25 crowd here!", and re-engineered the site to squarely cater to that demographic. Then, someone like Friendster could have said "Hmm... We need to focus on an area the competition is ignoring. Let's slant our site to an older audience." Instead, I think they got greedy and seeing older users catching on to using their system, they assumed they were "dominating the social networking world". Nope .. just riding the peak of the wave of "trendy" for a little while.
  • by neomage86 ( 690331 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @09:33PM (#16448555)
    Specifically, it says:
    Remember that web site you signed up for at Harvard two days before we met in January 2004, called houseSYSTEM - the one I made with the Universal Face Book that pre-dated your site by four months? (You left it out of your speech at Stanford, which is why I ask.) Well, I've re-launched it as CommonRoom (http://www.commonroom.com), and just like its predecessor, it has all sorts of features that might seem familiar: birthday reminders, an event calendar, RSVPs...After all, when you saw all of those features in houseSYSTEM three years ago, you called them "too useful," but I stood by them as valuable.

    The open letter isn't advice, it's taking cheap shots because he's pissed off facebook succeeded while his social networking sites all failed.
  • S'funny...
    I make a fair amount of money programming in Java, but whenever there's a new and interesting site with ass-poor server response time, I look up at the URL and 2/3 of the time I see the extension .jsp ....

    I don't know if it's *poorly written* stuff that's the problem, or what (I mean if they're programming straisght JSP w/o putting the business logic in servlets or using some other framework, that might be an indicator that they took a few shortcuts, but still...)
  • by OverflowingBitBucket ( 464177 ) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @10:28PM (#16448879) Homepage Journal
    From the summary:

    A few weeks ago I wrote an open letter to my former friend from school, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, telling him to take Yahoo's money before it's too late. It was meant partly as a joke, and partly as a way to set the record straight on his company's origins, since in financial terms he'll be fine no matter what happens. Now the New York Times has written a story on Friendster, the social network no one talks about anymore. It seems that while history repeats itself every few decades in the global scheme of things, the period of recurrence in Silicon Valley is quite a bit shorter. The moral here: take the billion dollars while you still can."

    So we have:
    - an open letter saying to take the money and run, implying that the business is not worth the money.
    - you call his business: "Friendster, the social network no one talks about anymore"
    - in case the letter doesn't drum it in, you add: "The moral here: take the billion dollars while you still can."
    - you get it posted to Slashdot.

    Ever wonder why he is a "former friend"? My God you're an asshole. Don't ever be my friend, please.
  • Somehow I got signed up to Friendster against my will. They allowed someone to register with my email address without email varification when they first started out their service. I marked all of the messages as spam, because I did not sign up for the service. Then I found out after people were sending me messages that were weird that someone was chatting with them online and the replies would go to my address. So I reset the password and had the account deleted because they used my email address in the first place. I get stuff like that from Qads and other sites, I never signed up for. It ticks me off that social networking sites allow people to register with my info without even verifying who they are. I should sue or something. The person who did it, had an IP that traced back to China or some other Asian nation, though, so I am not sure how a lawsuit might take place there.
  • ...but it seems like the submitter has something personal against Facebook, and that should be kept in mind when reading the article.
  • subversive promotion (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This "open letter" is simply a publicity push for the submitters new product. He is riding on the "rise and fall of friendster" to get his complaint on slashdot. Whether the allegations against Zuckerberg are true or not, the submitter obviously didn't have the stronger marketing push or product during their initial releases in their college days. Facebook won. Submitter lost.

    I am a Facebook user, and the submitter spammed Facebook with global groups and this same "open letter".
  • Perhaps, we should compare commonroom.com with facebook.com, and you will see why ThinkComp has a major chip on his shoulder... However, that said, his advice is quite sound. Take your freakin' $100 per use and move on.

    That is, unless the guy runs the site because he likes the responsibility, level of power, prestige, or just the satisfaction of working with a job well done and is not really motivated by the money. In which case, what is a good way to buy him out of those other priorities? Perhaps it

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