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Google Apparently Tried to Buy Friendster

 11:21 am on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)


Search-engine giant Google recently made a $30 million offer to buy Friendster, the hot Sunnyvale online dating site that lets users meet and date friends of their friends.

Friendster spurned the proposal, choosing instead to accept $13 million in fresh investments from venture capital firms, according to two VC insiders familiar with the events.



 11:31 am on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Also discussed here:


 1:52 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

I still dont understand the business model behind Friendster , yes i agree its cool and have viral growth potential but i doubt people will pay for the service?

The only exit strategy i can think is some portal like Yahoo or MSN can buy it and have it as a loss leader to generate buzz/traffic (like how MSN uses hotmail!)

The one recent startup i like more than friendster is "Skype" , it has the same viral growth potential but has better monetizing possibilities and more importantly it truly changes people's lives :) .

IMHO if Google decides to buy a non-search related company then Skype is better than friendster and i think at this early stage they can buy it for penuts :)


 2:50 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm with Gopi on that one, too. I don't see how they could ever justify an IPO on a business model in which your clients may not want to pay- in which there's always the potential that some clever teen could replicate the Friendster model on an open-source/peer-to-peer Distributed Computing model.

They shoulda took the money, I say.

I read this story yesterday and my big question was, what would Google do with Friendster? Is it truly a hedge against becoming the next Netscape to MSN's Longhorn? Or something else?


 2:55 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think Google has an affinity towards brand names like Blogger, Friendster etc ;)


 3:01 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)
The graphic on friendster is more telling:


They want that stuff. I still say that Custom Serps are in their future - and dating would be a perfect match for that.

Even if it isn't used for that - Social Networks is a huge and growing area of research. Very interesting stuff - like:


I can say two things about google's buys and attepted buys so far. I couldn't have guessed any of them ahead of time (that I can remember) nor did I think they made perfect sense.


 3:04 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

"...Google saw an acquisition of Friendster as a way to boost its ability to search for information on people..."



 4:32 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

I own a large dating site, for someone to buy friendster they must be crazy. Most people who sign up for friendster signed up because they got a email and wanted to check it out. I bet 95% of thier signups will never come back. But in terms of building statistical models and tracking peoples interests it would be a gold mine for google.


 5:33 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

doesnt friendster seem to be a logical progression for Google? First the search for web pages, then the search for images, then the search for newsgroups, then the search for news...

...now the search for a hot date?

Makes perfect sense.


 10:15 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

gopi said:

The one recent startup i like more than friendster is "Skype" , it has the same viral growth potential but has better monetizing possibilities and more importantly it truly changes people's lives.

I remember hearing recently that Skype is owned by the same people that own Kazaa. You better check your machine for spyware.



 11:46 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

That would have been dumb...unless Friendster has a business model that sixdegrees.com somehow didn't think of.


 1:53 am on Nov 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

I remember hearing recently that Skype is owned by the same people that own Kazaa. You better check your machine for spyware

Skype is founded by the same guys who founded Kazaa . But they sold kazaa to sherman networks years before .I think only after that kazaa began to carry spyware... The skype site says it carries no spyware.

I dont think they will be that foolish to kill such a huge potential for some quick spyware bucks :)


 5:24 pm on Nov 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would'nt dismiss friendster too easily. I heard match.com is doing very well financially.


 9:22 am on Nov 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Everyone seems to be looking for financial/business reasons why Google should buy Friendster, perhaps Sergy just wanted a cool way to find a new friend;)

As the shaver Ad used to say, something like:

"I was so impressed, I attempted to buy the company" :)


 6:01 am on Nov 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I own a dating software development/research company and a big dating portal and I have to say that Friendster is in fact not that simple as it may look - it is NOT easy to replicate and its database structure has some very interesting aspects that may be relevant to what Google is doing. Think on what it takes to let one search for dates in his friends' network...? Hey, DB programmers - think on what it takes to calculate this network - and how it may "constantly" change shape every time a single member registers/unregisters/adds-removes new friends. Image the scale and think of speed. This involves a complicated hierarchical algorithm that must do LOTS of work fast. I can even guess that Friendster MIGHT have something that MIGHT help solve recent Google problems.

What if: friends=sites, invitations=links, accepted invitations=reciprocated links, networks=themes/sets... Now: What if Friendster DOES know how to calculate FriendRank better than Google does ;)

Dating business would have some hard time if Google launches "dating/personals/friends" thingy, but unfortunately I am sure that they eventually do this.


 6:05 am on Nov 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm still wondering how it makes money.

I wonder how valuable the network will be when your friends have all dated and commented on the people in your network they wanted to date (and vice versa). The beauty of traditional dating sites is that no one is commenting about you to the rest of the world.


 5:03 pm on Nov 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

here's a crazy idea:

google wants to link up search queries to a profile. i don't know how realistic it is, but "Friendster has attracted 1.8 million members since its launch last March"

You could use the toolbar and the friendster db to bring the search query and the user profile together.



 11:20 am on Nov 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google cannot stay away from this new “social networking” wave. Google is an “information” company and friendster’s database is too unique not to have a shot at. Same as google buying blogger – it must keep an edge on other Internet mega players. Maybe they should buy [redacted] and get the social networking and a built in instant messenger all in one… now that will be a good IPO move - declaring war on yahoo search / messenger! :)

[edited by: Chris_R at 12:05 pm (utc) on Nov. 19, 2003]
[edit reason] Removed specific product name [/edit]


 11:59 am on Nov 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

If they go for IM, I say the should do the underground/revolutionary thing and get (or build) something like [insert well-known multi-network IM client]. Combine it with the deskbar/toolbar, and perhaps build a offshoot of Mozilla (or buy Opera, they seem to be courting anyways), and become the Microsoft of the internet.

We all know they need to diversif, as anybody with enough cash can buy the skill and intelligence to build a google-busting SE. (MS might be a cnadidate).

But if they "leverage their monopoly" a-la MS, which is one of thequickest and most effective ways to entrench yourself in a market, then they could be solid and unbeatable by the time MS arrives on the scene.

Now all goody-goody morals asside, that's gotta be at least tempting to anybody facign the MS war-machine.


<edit>Removed product name</edit>

[edited by: killroy at 12:33 pm (utc) on Nov. 19, 2003]


 12:09 pm on Nov 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld hrdtlk. We try to shy away from mentioning specifics whenever possible.

I think the whole social networking aspect is very interesting and was key to their offer.


 4:49 pm on Nov 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

No problem Chris :)

not new but a returning user who des not have the same email anymore :(

slashdot.org had a story last week (Thursday) about it. Since /. is a market pulse I'm sure it not the end of hearing about these social applications.


 12:14 am on Nov 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

The biggest problem with Friendster, Tribe.net, and the like is the "reverse network effect." Their value supposedly increases when more people join, but I think just the opposite happens. When too many people join or become connected to your "tree", they become diluted and so does the value of their opinions. Who cares if my cousin's sister's brother's best friend from high school's uncle's niece knows someone who knows someone who I might find attractive? Or, with Tribe.net, who thinks their digital camera is great? What makes them any more trustworthy than your average joe?

Search engines are a real, vibrant and valuable business because we can all make money by having them link to our e-commerce sites, even if we have to pay for it. But now the VCs are trying to jump on the bandwagon by hyping things like this. It smells like a bubble to me and I'd hate to see search engines viewed as over-hyped because of their association with jokes like Friendster.

On the other hand, if Friendster proves me wrong and works, it does make sense for Google to own. Match.com is just a search engine for dating. Friendster might become the next Match.com. Why not own it? Blogger made sense too. They're encouraging the growth of content online, which was suffering badly, so they can lock in distribution for AdSense.

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