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Summary:

At this point, social networks that don’t offer something dramatically new are having trouble. Remember TagWorld? It’s a MySpace clone but way better designed. It came late to the game, but was rallied on by people like me who were sick of MySpace hurting their eyes. […]

At this point, social networks that don’t offer something dramatically new are having trouble. Remember TagWorld? It’s a MySpace clone but way better designed. It came late to the game, but was rallied on by people like me who were sick of MySpace hurting their eyes. Well, the site has stalled out at 2 million users, while MySpace has sped on past 100 million registrations.

Last night Wallop beta-launched. I want to root for this one too, but it’s hard to say whether the company’s tweaks are enough to drive mass migration. After all, MySpace’s user base is the equivalent of a third of the U.S. population.

Wallop is invite-only, with no friend-of-a-friend, no HTML, and no ads. The site is built in Flash, and the company is actively appealing to the Flash community to build and sell “mods” –backgrounds, animations, widgets, et cetera — for users’ profiles. Its primary business model is to take 30 percent of such transactions. Wallop has ruled out ads, but perhaps not sponsored mods. And no kids allowed; it’s 18-plus for now.

The San Francisco-based company, which Om first covered in April, came out of a 4-year Microsoft research project into social networking. Founder and CTO Sean Uberoi Kelly brags he was user 300 or so on Friendster and user 10,000 or so on MySpace.

CEO Karl Jacob contends “the problem with social networking today is not that you don’t have enough friends, it’s that you have too many friends.” On Wallop, you can precisely group your friends and decide what they see. You can also format a public page for non-members to see.

This attention to privacy and relationships makes Wallop a lot like Facebook. Additionally, Wallop aggregates recent activity on the site into a stream, much like Facebook’s controversial News Feeds.

However, Wallop is not nearly as strict about connecting to real-world identity as Facebook is. (Facebook, incidentally, opened up today to new members whose email addresses do not come from previously approved domains, as it recently announced it would do.)

Wallop is also much more open to modification from outsiders than Facebook. Feeds from sites like Flickr or TypePad are fair game for profiles, users can upload and stream music, and of course pictures. But the company has fallen behind established networks in the mobile space, with no phone version at launch.

Wallop also announced a $10 million series B round last night, and has now raised a total of $13.6 million, from Norwest Venture Partners, Bay Partners, and angels. That money is to be spent on hiring and infrastructure, and also throwing some parties to round up members.

We have no idea why you would want a social networking desktop app, but this is the closest thing we’ve seen to it. I used to feel slightly ill when I happened on a Flash site, but man…we’ve come a long way. Hey Karl and Sean — as a public service, would you consider selling yourself to NewsCorp.?

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  1. Otis Gospodnetic Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    This will be interesting to watch.

    Note: the first link to Wallop is kaput – http://wallop.com/wallop.html .

  2. I would like to use a myspace alternative. Are you willing to pass out invites?

  3. Seriously… for someone to suggest that the Myspace user base is 1/3 of the U.S. population (using the 113+ million registered “users” as your basis) suggests you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you use Myspace or have poked around it enough (as I would assume a tech journalist would) you would know that there are nowhere near that many legitimate users. Myspace is big, no doubt. But my best educated guess is there MIGHT be 50M actual unique users. And yes, this includes strippers ;) Myspace has become a fun house of spoof profiles, inanimate objects as “users”, escorts services, work-from-home scams and general derelicts. THESE are the majority. Don’t believe me… do a search for any of your favorite celebritys.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the “ooohhing and aahhing” over these SOCNET sites based on their allegedly enormous “registered user” base makes me ill. The only SOCNET site that got it right, in my opinion, WAS Facebook — and they are even screwing it up as we speak.

    Allow me to quote Rod Tidwell… “Show me the money!”

  4. I agree with WTL. MySpace user profiles are becoming more and more useless. The people who wanted a profile already created them a long time ago, now it’s just people deciding they want to create ANOTHER one, an Alter Ego, or a profile for Mel Gibson’s Jewish Attorney. Add in the fact that their wallpaper promos for the WB and Jackass make the site impossible to read, it only gives sites like Facebook more value in the long run. Hopefully FBK will be able to weed out scammers and spammers with this new Geographical system they have launched.

  5. Dimitar Vesselinov Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    The “please invite me” meme was a smart marketing move for Orkut in 2004. I like the new feel of Wallop, but Myspace, Facebook and Bebo will rule the consumer social networking scene.

  6. i agree there is lot of hype for social networks, but people want to try new things…as for me i m happy with orkut but would like to try wallop…plz send me invites at pjz160@gmail.com

  7. i know it is quite impolite but i have nothing to add except that i am also looking for someone who invites me -> luclefuque [at] gmx [dot] de

    man, i am so curious for this thing

  8. Any news of this yet?

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