Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why won't graduate

A friend e-mailed me a great question the other day:

I've got a profile posted at . In order to do anything of significance on the site, you have to pay to access profiles of the people you went to high school or college with. Has this idea been superseded by Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites where I don't have to pay to see profiles and reconnect with old friends?
The short answer is YES. The long answer is still YES, but it's a little more complicated. had a phenomenal opportunity to build a social networking site to rival its competitors at the time--Friendster and a new kid on the block called MySpace. had an advantage, too: it could build a social net
work based on real world relationships, with people already predisposed to connect online to relaunch or continue that relationship. Instead of creating income by harnessing the value their audience might have to potential advertisers, however, they decided instead to try to make money off of memberships and fees. That created a significant barrier to entry.

Around the same time, Facebook was launched for a limited audience: college students with a college-issued e-mail address. No memberships and no fees, but with the e-mail address prerequisite serving as a barrier to entry nonetheless. Once Facebook realized the power inherent in letting everyone in, however, they removed this barrier. The result? It's unclear exactly how much Facebook is worth today, but here's
one estimate.

Amid all this, whither Well, it's withering. Instead of opening their doors, they're still trying to survive by building barriers. For example, they keep telling me I have two e-mails in my in-box, but when I try to log-in and read them, I'm told I can't unless I buy a membership. And sure, I'm curious about who those e-mails are from, but not that curious--especially when I've probably already connected with the same people elsewhere. I have no idea why thinks this will work in a world where free e-mail and free network memberships are the norm. I can only guess they're hanging on to it because they can't come up with a better idea. What's the next move for Well, I pretty much agree with this guy. could have been named Most Likely to Succeed. Now they look like the class clown.


John Good said...

The "You've got mail" ploy is VERY annoying. I resisted it for over a year before finally buying a single month's membership so I could read ONE stinkin' message. And that was only because I had no other contact info for the person.

ScLoHo (Scott Howard) said...

Classmates mail gets deleted when I get email from them for the very reasons you mentioned.