Social Network Hi5 gets $20 million

38 Comments

[qi:064] Social Networking world these days may seem like all-Facebook-all-the-time, but there are other social nets that are gaining traction, and are drawing interest from the venture capital community. Hi5, a San Francisco-based social networking start-up is said to have raised about $20 million in its latest round of funding. The VC firm involved in this round of funding is said to be Mohr Davidow Ventures. (Update:) The company had raised some angel funding previously, and this is company’s first institutional round.

The company co-founded by Ramu Yalamanchi, started out as a social-network-plus matrimonial site targeting the Indian diaspora, but later morphed into a social network, and since then has gained popularity in some Latin American countries, Mongolia, Tunisia and Romania. The company has about 30 million members and serves up 200 million pages a day.

If you look at this social networking map of the world, one finds that there are quite a few international-only players. Someone like Google or Yahoo should attempt a large scale consolidation – or at least that is what Hi5’s backers must be hoping for.

38 Comments

4xdisciple

HI5 is a juggernaut in Latin America. I can tell you from first hand experience that HI5 is a force to reckon with if your marketing target is spanish speaking Hispanics.

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My brother owns an Internet café. Based on observation an Internet user would first check their profile at Hi5 or at any other social networking site. Is this procrastination or is this just the trend nowadays.

shopping

I think that many times a social network finds itself most popular with a certain demographic, simply by some sort of word of mouth advertising. For instance, most people in my country (South Africa) use Facebook, and secondly might use MySpace. Even if hi5 offers a better service, better usability etc. the fact of the matter is most of my friends are on Facebook, so why should I change? The demographic of hi5 may not even be planned, it’s just worked out that way. Even if it was planned– if a social network targeted my country, I’m not sure I’d really move… unless ALL my friends got on it, which would be quite an achievement. I don’t want to have ten social networking accounts at ten different sites.

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I personally think that facebook and myspace are the better alternatives in social networking, but maybe Hi5 will use the 20 million to improve their system and make it more popular.

joseph dutti

I agree with most posts hi5 doesnt stand for anything but if you want to see the next facebook or myspace look at vois.com – its got the global presence of hi 5 amdnd features like facebook.com

Sarah

any one knows the differences, advantages/disadvantages among Hi5, Facebook, Ringo and MySpace? which is the best…the most reliable, the best way to keep in touch with your friends, etc…? txs

Jerry R. Reynolds

The corporate money that is being thrown at these sites is astronomical. I recognize that the value of advertising to a group that owns one of these sites but it is really ineffective! If these sites wanted to get serious about their business, they would be advertising for Major Corporation’s not pointless icon and ring tone ads.

Jerry R. Reynolds
Alimoe Developing
jerry@alimoeinc.com

Om Malik

Neal and others,

thanks for letting me know about this being the first institutional round. I knew they took some angel funding, but wasn’t quite sure.

On the Indian angle, they had started out as a matrimonial site, Sona.com but that didn’t work out. So they morphed into a social network.

I hope I can find someone to email me back and touch base. I did drop them an email but no word just yet.

Neal

Om – As one of the commentators indicated this is the first institutional round by the company. Whats phenomenal about them is the fact that with 40 odd people they sustain the same traffic as Facebook.

congrats to the hi5 team. BTW, are you planning on interviewing anyone from the team? Would love to hear the real story (the whole indian angle seems interesting)?

Mark Williamson

If FaceBook loses its upcoming court battle, Hi5 will have an opportunity to gain significant U.S. readership.

Three of Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s former Harvard buddies are alleging that Zuckerberg stole the idea, source code and the business plan for Facebook in 2003 while working as a programmer for them. The suit alleges copyright infringement, stealing trade secrets, fraud and breach of contract.

On Wednesday, the claimants will be asking a federal judge to give them control of Facebook and its assets, as well as grant them damages. If this happens…and mind you I say if, Hi5 will be giving Hi5’s.

P

Latest round of financing? How about only round of financing. By staying lean and growing organically Hi5 hi5 the Alexa top 15 while running a profit.

Also, not mentioned above is that Hi5’s big market is Portugal.

10012

Judging by how far Ramu got on minimal resources I’m sure they’ll do great with some actual funding now! Congrats to Hi5 Team!

Winstonian

Hi5 is not differentiating itself or offering any kind of unique value proposition that Myspace or Facebook doesn’t already offer. As you suggested, this company probably exists solely to get bought out (i.e. it stands for nothing, has no values, no purpose other than to enrich its VCs and founders).

Winstonian

Hi5 is not differentiating itself or offering any kind of unique value proposition that Myspace or Facebook doesn’t already offer. As you suggested, this company probably exists solely to get bought out (i.e. it stands for nothing, has no values, no purpose other than to enrich its VCs and founders).

Rajeev

The whole ad thing itself is very obfuscating…now throw in the fact that most of your users are in Mongolia, Romania etc. I wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to an ad based biz model.

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