How Friendster Lost Its Footing

The New York Times has an article on the downfall of friendster. It traces Friendster through the fabled Google buyout offer, numerous CEOs, and dwindling traffic. In the article most of the blame is aimed at high-profile investors and board-members for not recognizing Friendster’s performance issues and paying more attention to what potential competitors were doing. I was a fairly early Friendster user and I had a ton of fun at first, but I definitely stopped using the service when the performance dropped.

I have always attributed Friendster’s decline to two issues. One was its performance issues (well-addressed in the article). The other was that Friendster fought its users. Its users wanted groups and Friendster tried to stop them from making it happen. In Friendster all of the nodes were people. To connect to another person it had to be through other people and their set of relationships. Some people wanted to cut through this and have nodes that represented interests, locations, or celebrities.These were known as Fakesters and were routinely deleted by Friendster for not being real human beings and for connecting formerly disparate nodes of Friendster’s social network. It was a chance for Friendster to listen to their users and learn what they wanted instead of sending them off to Tribe.net, Orkut, and eventually MySpace — all of which allowed groups from the beginning. Friendster certainly has gotten better of late, but I agree with the prinicipals in the article that its is a cautionary tale.

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  • http://www.warmroom.com yesteray

    Friendster had already jumped the shark more than 2 years ago, when the fired the blogger. I certainly stopped paying any attention to them.

    Basically what that firing told me was that Friendster was a social networking site that was opposed to social networking. Not the best business model, and not an ideal recommendation for a possible employer.

    At the time, Scoble said this at the time:

    If I worked at Friendster now I’d be stepping up my job search efforts cause I wouldn’t want to work for an employer that treated employees as something to be tossed aside when there’s the first hint of negative PR.

    I don’t agree with Scoble about many things, but he nailed this one.

  • brady

    agreed. almost mentioned the fired blogger in my post – that was when i noticed they lost a lot of external support from people, but i wanted to keep the post simple.

  • http://www.vestedventures.com/blog/ Steve Poland

    Last month I wrote about who I think would be the perfect acquirer of FriendsterIAC (which owns Evite, among many other recognized web brands). IAC lacks a social networking website in their portfolio and this acquisition would make so much sense for Friendster (breathe new life into them and expose the company’s service to millions of daily users if integrated — or splashed — on IAC’s other property sites). As for IAC, it would allow them to create a user community around all of their properties. In my opinion, they take a chapter out of the pages of what MyBlogLog is doing and build out Friendster to become a distributed social networking website that any website could easily integrate, allowing any website to tap into Friendster’s userbase and easily create a community amongst their visitors.

  • andy

    The moral of the story is, if someone offers you $30 million, you take it.