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The Downfall of Friendster - The Social Network Website Pioneer

Before MySpace and Facebook, there was Friendster, a pioneering social networking website for consumers. First launched in 2002, Friendster attracted tens of millions of users over the years, but it never quite grew into the online juggernaut it could have been.

It is considered one of the original and even the "grandfather" of social networks. Not quite two years old then, Friendster had already come up against many new competitors and clones. Michael Birch, best known for selling Bebo to AOL and later buying it back, launched Ringo.com three days after hearing about Friendster, later describing it as "a copycat site of Friendster." Google launched Orkut, a failed early attempt at a social network, in January 2004 after attempting a Friendster acquisition. Even one of Friendster's investors, future Zynga founder Mark Pincus, launched a social networking competitor in 2003 called Tribe.net.

If all that wasn't enough, there was MySpace, which was founded in late 2003. According to Abrams, the team at MySpace would spam Friendster's message boards, trying to poach users. ( "Hmm... I remember that spam wall message from Myspace LOL ".)

While the current  know that today's social media giant, Facebook launch in 2004, was a mere two years younger.

Remember the gaudy profile pics with the sparkly, animated lettering? Or the sappy, long-winded dedications you'd leave on your friends pages? 

Friendster Layouts, Skins, Premade Layouts, Overlay, Crossover Layouts. dyan ako natuto mag CSS at Basic HTML hahaha  a lot of bling bling on your FS Layout with your Favorite Rockstar or Anime Theme and  add the Music Playlist!.

Friendster made its last stand in Asia. The social network was acquired in 2009 — not by "goliaths" like Yahoo or AOL, or Google, which had offered to buy it years earlier — by MOL Global, an online payments provider based in Malaysia. Friendster had 115 million members at the time of the acquisition, the vast majority of which (more than 75 million) lived in Asia.

Friendster was acquired by Malaysian payments company MOL Global at the end of 2009 for a reported $40 million.

In 2011, MOL Global / Friendster CEO Ganesh Kumar Bangah told ZDNet that he’s under the impression social media sites are increasingly being made irrelevant because the global social graph is increasingly dominated by Facebook. Having raised close to $50 million in venture capital,

He added that, as a result, Friendster will be repositioned as a social entertainment site for people to play games and music, and that it will leverage Facebook Connect. 

Purchased  by a Malaysian online payments provider, it deleted all its former users and started fresh as a gaming service. Most visitors these days are concentrated in just Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Fast forward to today, and it looks like Friendster won’t be so much about sharing with friends even in game anymore.

On June 14, 2015 Friendster, citing "...the evolving landscape in our challenging industry" and lack of engagement by the online community, suspended their services.

No less than Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams has decided to explain why, after years of avoiding the topic. In a recent interview with Seth Fiegerman on Mashable, he confessed that Friendster's downfall was a complicated matter fraught with many missed opportunities.

 "It was a really weird time. Friendster at the time was still a very small company," he says."We viewed ourselves as the David, not the Goliath. There were the Yahoos and the AOLs and we were this tiny, little startup. But the moment Friendster got the publicity, people started to copy it. Of course we were aware of all of them."

Even with all that competition, Abrams recognized early on that Facebook might pose a unique threat. On Friendster, users could set up profiles, connect with friends and family, search for new contacts (and, yes, potential dates) based on the people you were already connected to and interact with people on the social network through messages and groups. It was essentially a more pared down version of Facebook and the latter had the added benefit of quickly gaining popularity among college students.

Abrams mentioned key moments, though, that surely contributed to his creation's demise:

1) Friendster did not push for certain projects ahead of Facebook

Among the things Facebook is known for are a) its birth on a college campus, and its initial spreading across other college campuses; b) its Newsfeed; and c) its social graph. Believe it or not, but Adams claims that some of Friendster's plans included a college edition, a newsfeed, and a social graph -- all ahead of Facebook. But these plans remained just that, only to surface through their competitor in the future.

2) Friendster was not addressing tech issues

Friendster suffered through many technology issues, but they weren't addressed because the site's investors wanted to focus on other concerns. Ironically, thanks to all the stability issues it underwent through the years, Friendster's market share dropped dramatically.

3) Friendster didn't buy Facebook when it had the chance

In 2004, Friendster's head honchos actually met up with Mark Zuckerberg and his team in the hopes of buying Facebook. The problem? Abrams says they didn't offer the kind of numbers Zuckerberg wanted.

4) Friendster allowed Facebook to buy its entire portfolio of social networking patents

Friendster drove a hard bargain when they were the buyers, but were completely complacent when they were the sellers. Then again, Friendster did sell it all off for $40 million at a time when it was all but obsolete. But should they have been that easy?

5) Friendster didn't sell itself to big sites when it had the chance

Finally, Yahoo!, AOL, and Google actually offered to buy Friendster early on, but Abrams and his team didn't give in. Imagine if Google, in particular, bought Friendster! Google Plus might have been very different – and maybe more successful.

Despite all of this, however, Abrams looks back on Friendster with positivity.
"Whenever you step out and do something, you are going to get both positive and negative feedback. That's just what happens when you create things," he tells Mashable. "Absolutely there are people who have criticized me for things involving Friendster — sometimes things that are not true. But overall, most of the legacy of Friendster is pretty positive. And there are a lot of connections and relationships that I have that may have been started because of Friendster."

For now, Abrams continues to work on developing finally come out http://nuzzel.com/, Nuzzel and suggests the news reader .Ten years later, Abrams may end up competing with Facebook all over again.

Could Friendster be revived from the face of cyber space?

Source: mashable, rappler, techcrunch

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