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Is Friendster the VH1 to MySpace’s MTV? Not if they can’t get their house in order.

Is Friendster the VH1 to MySpace's MTV? Not if they can't get their house in order.

A recent NY Times article entitled “Wallflower at the Web Party” told about Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams and his decision NOT to accept a $30 million buy out offer from Google a few years back, an offer which would “easily be worth over $1 billion today.”

“Instead, Mr. Abrams has the distinction of founding a company that is shorthand for potential unmet.

Roughly once a week, David L. Sze, a venture capitalist at Greylock Partners, hears from entrepreneurs who say they have the next MySpace, the copycat social networking site that has trounced Friendster. ”The counter to that is, ‘Tell me why you aren’t going to be the next Friendster,’ ” Mr. Sze said. ”It’s become the iconic case of failure.”

What went wrong with Friendster?

“Why and how Friendster missed the mark is a salutary Silicon Valley tale so instructive that Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, uses the company’s inglorious fall as a case study in his strategy classes.

Friendster’s fate is ”a real puzzle,” Professor Piskorski said. ”This was a company that had the talent and had the connections.” he said. ”…. There is no single reason that explains Friendster’s failures, Professor Piskorski added, which is what makes it academic fodder.”

I never really “got” Friendster.

Come to think of it, I didn’t really “get” MySpace either. (Ten million kids and a guy named Tom can’t be wrong, can they?)

For fun, I set up a MySpace page a few months ago. All the cool kids have one. Mine is woefully plain.

It’s boring, really.

I’ve never pimped my MySpace page up.

And I don’t really like having friends I don’t actually know. (With one or two exceptions.)

Then I thought of something.

What if Friendster is more my speed…a social networking site for those of us who aren’t in junior high school.

“The team now running Friendster valiantly soldiers on, hoping that it can position the company as a site for an older demographic group — people 25 to 40 — who do not have the time or inclination to spend hours each day on MySpace.”

Sounds like me. Hmmmm. So, I log on and start to tinker. I set up an account. It asks me to import my Yahoo email list an invite people to be my friend(ster).

I am struck by how many people I know already have Friendster accounts.

(You know who you are…)

I also wonder how many have checked them in the past 3 months.

So I make some clicks, add some friends…Then it happens…

Calls. IM’s. Return emails.

Apparently the Friendster server sent my invitation to everyone like 30 times!!!!!!!.

Now, instead of trying to take the lead starting a mini-Friendster road less travelled retro revival, I am a deserate spamming stalker.

(Or is it stalking spammer?)

The article mentioned technical performance as one of Friendster’s primary limitations:

” As Friendster became more popular, its overwhelmed Web site became slower. Things would become so bad that a Friendster Web page took as long as 40 seconds to download. Yet, from where Mr. Lindstrom sat, technical difficulties proved too pedestrian for a board of this pedigree. The performance problems would come up, but the board devoted most of its time to talking about potential competitors and new features.”

I no longer wonder why Friendster never caught on.

…And to my would be friendsters, sorry for blowing up your email boxes.

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