Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Friendster's Despicable Behavior

Some of you may remember our bitching about Friendster's schizophrenic definition of its corporate identity.

Embedded in my diatribe (posted earlier this summer) was a belief that Friendster was unsuccessfully trying to replicate My Space, another social networking & internet property.

Since that rant, My Space (and its parent, Intermix Media) was acquired by Rupert Murdoch, media mogul and CEO of Fox New Corp, for billions of dollars.

What that means is that the pressure is on for Friendster.

Friendster is backed by huge names in Silicon Valley, namely Kleiner Perkins, arguably the most venerable venture capital firm in the country (Kleiner funded Google in its nascence and John Doerr -- a general partner at the firm -- personally netted close to $540 million after Google went public).

Friendster may be thinking that the virtual community space may be maturing -- or at least getting a little more crowded.

Threatened by shrinking profit margins, the site has had to ramp up on noxious advertising, which I see as a move on management's behalf to "get serious" on their promise to make Friendster a profitable entity ripe for exit (sale of the company to larger, established player).

The bottom line is that Friendster is more attuned to its wallet than it is to its user base.

That's unacceptable.

Did you know that both the CEO and founder of Friendster have their Friendster profiles closed off to users not in their circumscribed networks?

To me, that is one of many manifestations of management-consumer disconnect at Friendster.

Management has done little to clean up spam issues on the site, moreover.

We abhor the recent changes.

We detest what the site has become.

Friendster now resembles a teenybopper bazaar and not the simple, self-respecting digital enclave I joined in 2003.

If Friendster were a publicly traded company, we'd do everything in our power to short the stock down to zero.

F for Friendster in the customer-centricity department.

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