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Summary:

We have Google Envy… we have iPod envy… and we have MySpace envy. Barring Skype sales to eBay, MySpace has been the only really big ticket exit in the tech-land for a while, and its $500 million plus price tag has $-signs dancing in people’s eyes. […]

We have Google Envy… we have iPod envy… and we have MySpace envy. Barring Skype sales to eBay, MySpace has been the only really big ticket exit in the tech-land for a while, and its $500 million plus price tag has $-signs dancing in people’s eyes. That explains why not a day passes when we hear about a new social networking company stake its claim to be the next MySpace. (Update: Bill Gurley just emailed and reminded me that Ebay paid $634 million for Shopping.com, and EA paid $680 million for Jamdat, both larger than MySpace and both Benchmark companies.)

On Friday, John Cook wrote about Hyperboy, a Seattle-based start-up that is trying to do everything MySpace does and adding a liberal dose of mobile access to Hyperboy network. Brent Brookler, a three time entrepreneur having started MountainZone and Mobliss, when asked by Cook about MySpace, “I am not saying we are dissimilar. … But if we are going to compare to anyone else, we would say it is more Flickr-like — with all content types, not just photos.” Okay, just like a new hand lotion with different fragrance than Nivea! Gotcha!

Brookler, at least has some consumer Internet experience, but the news which convinced me that we were in Social Networking bubble popped on my feed reader last night, just before I went to sleep. Jeanette Symons, a life long telecom veteran who was co-founder and CTO of telecom-roll-up play, Zhone Technologies and CTO of Ascend Communications has a new start-up based in Emeryville, California, called Industrious Kid, and the first product of the company is Imbee.com, a safe social networking environment for kids. Industrious Kid has raised $6 million.

Telecom people doing social networks and consumer companies? I think there is a little consumer Internet insanity going on right now. People who have little or no handle on consumer are getting funded, or offering funding. Designing high-end switches and getting kids to switch from MySpace – two entirely different tasks. Anyway this insanity is understandable. WSJ has an article about start-ups getting showered by money, some getting unsolicited emails from VCs offering barrel loads of cash. The trend “absolutely harkens back to the bubble days” of 1999 and 2000, Tom Blaisdell, a general partner with DCM-Doll Capital Management, tells the WSJ. (sub.reqd) I let him have the final word on this.

PS: In case you were wondering when there will be a market top – look for a journalist quitting his job to start a social network!

Update: Tim Donovan of Industrious Kid and Brent Brookler have added their side of the story in the comments section.

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  1. … you can be the first “OmSpace: A Place for Friends (of Om)”

  2. The market has been going crazy lately. I’ve had several $100 million buyout offers in the last few weeks. not only is my company a single employee company but at 400 million pageviews/month and millions in revenue it is completely unique in todays world. That and its the first major site to be run by an AI

  3. that doesn’t surprise me, even though you are essentially running a hook-up site. still, that makes me wanna pause…

  4. What makes me different is that no other site this size has under 400 employees. (match.com lavalife and yahoo personals)

    What i’ve done is automate the job of hundreds of people, and dropped the technology costs from 1 million/month to ~15k/month. Once all these other social networks/dating sites figure out what i’ve done these sites are going to go from barely profitable to making 10’s of millions a year in profit.

  5. essentially running a hook-up site

    MySpace is also the same, dont you think Om :)

  6. Speaking of social networking, google and nike have come out with a new site for the football community, joga.com. Anybody got a chance to check it out?

  7. Hi Om,

    Thanks for including us in your blog.

    So I have a few comments.

    What we’re really talking about with Jeanette and the rest of our team, is the ability to parlay real skill sets over from one industry to another, in order to fill a very real market need – social networking destinations which are purpose built for a child’s user experience.

    To my knowledge, MySpace or any of the other known open social networking spaces only cater to teenagers on up. Not kids.

    Destinations like our first product, imbee.com, will allow kids to develop their online skill sets “organically” while hopefully minimizing some of the risks associated with the publishing of their personal content. Content that currently finds its way to the entire Internet population – a portion of which as less than best intentions for kids as confirmed in many of the negative press articles related to children and social networking.

    Who better than someone like Jeanette, who besides being an extremely successful technologist is also a mother and that understands what’s missing in many of the social networking spaces where kids end up.

    It really comes down to this….. Jeanette is recognizing the opportunity to fill a market need and has the technical knowledge and resources to deliver a superior product for kids.

    Tim Donovan
    Founder, Vice President of Marketing

  8. “PS: In case you were wondering when there will be a market top – look for a journalist quitting his job to start a social network!”

    Waitaminnit! We can quibble over the semantics of “citizen journalism” vs. “social network” … but isn’t that what Gillmor did? ;-)

  9. So Mr. Brookler says they are like Flickr, and you say they are like MySpace… Does that mean you think Flickr is like MySpace? People don’t go to MySpace if they have a lot of photos to share. If Hyperboy is anything like Flickr, I don’t think they’ll need to worry about people wanting to share lots of photos/videos/music going to MySpace to do that, either.

  10. Jason Banico Monday, March 20, 2006

    Not a MySpace wannabe, but a MySpace Blogger hybrid is newly launched http://www.funchain.com.

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