New Social Networking Sites Continue to Launch

Posted on June 4, 2004

Is social networking the next big online trend? Some web companies must think so. The number of social networking sites seems to expand daily. Social networking sites, like Friendster and Friendzy, allow people to create free profiles about themselves which contain biographical information, photos, hobbies and interests. Once a person has completed a profile they can then connect or network with other people's profiles. And once they have networked with a friend they can then view the profiles of their friend's friends. As they connect with more and more people their network keeps expanding. By adding just a few friends to their network people can end up connected to thousands of other people. These networks can then be used for fun, for dating, for connecting specific groups, for arranging activities and also for serious business networking.

This novel social networking concept has been the focus of many new websites launch over the past few months. Some of the most popular of the social sites include Friendster, Friendzy and MySpace.com. Google, the popular search engine and pre-IPO company, has also entered the mix with Orkut.com. Google is trying to create a buzz for Orkut by making it invite-only, but ultimately anyone will be able to join either through an associate or friend or because Google simply decides to allow people to join without an invitation.

Other social networking sites include: Tribe.net, FriendSurfer.com, and PeepsNation.com. Emode.com, which began as a site for personality and IQ testing, recently expanded into the social networking phenomenon with Tickle.com. Some niche networking sites also exist like Dogster.com, which targets dog owners; MeetUp.com, which helps people organize local events; Multiply.com, which aims to make it easy for people to share information; and LinkedIn.com which focuses on professional business networking.

So far, social networking websites have attracted millions of registered users, but little profits. The sites seem to suffer from the some problem that has plagued online communities: lots of interest and traffic, but not enough advertising support. Some sites, like Tickle.com, have managed to generate revenues by also dipping into the online personals market. MySpace.com, which claims over 2 million members, recently debuted music downloads, a concept which should fit well with the young people who readily use social networking. Despite the lack of revenues, investors seem certain the concept will lead to profits down the road. Friendster alone has already received millions in venture capital funding. While the future of social networking is unclear, it is certain that more of these types of sites will continue to launch in 2004.

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