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Friendster Closes $20 Million Round; Focuses On Asia Now; New CEO

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Friendster has closed its new round of funding, in progress for most of this year, and it is a big one: it has raised $20 million in a new round, and the pioneer is now shifting its focus, wisely, to where it is strongest: in Asia. The round was led by IDG Ventures, which has a lot of experience investing in Asian countries, and included previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Benchmark Capital.

Also, the company is appointing a new CEO, a position vacant for almost two years: Richard Kimber, previously the head of South Asian operations and business partnerships for Google (NSDQ: GOOG), will become its new CEO. The business head till now, former president Kent Lindstrom, has now become SVP of corporate development.

The money will be used for new offices and employees in Asia, among other plans. It intends to capitalize on its Asian lead in countries like Philippines and Singapore and is Southeast Asia’s top social networking site, at least in terms of traffic/users. It says it has 75 million registered users in June, up from 45 million in June 2007, and more than 55 million of its registered users were in the Asian-Pacific region, up from 35 million in June 2007. Of course remains to be seen if it can monetize the growth in the disparate Asian countries…and then increasing competition from the sites that eclipsed it here in U.S.: MySpace and then Facebook.

The last time Friendster raised money was in late 2006, which was a $10 million round from DAG Ventures with participation from KPCB and Benchmark. Expect some of the new money to be used in acquiring some local social networking sites, and building on its ad infrastructure.

3 Responses to “Friendster Closes $20 Million Round; Focuses On Asia Now; New CEO”

  1. christian

    I’d say 99% of my friends in the philippines have switched over to facebook. Friendster is still strong there but it’s losing ground fast. They should check out as a potential acquisition target…..

  2. I do believe it's a great news for Friendster and it is also a pleasure looking at the web companies learning to adopt to new conditions – Friendster failed in the US market and instead of trying harder it simply moved to another place where it seems to be more welcomed.

  3. Amanda Natividad

    Interesting to see this because as an avid Facebook user and, well, American, I haven't heard the word "Friendster" unless it succeeded the words "what happened to," in years. Wonder if Friendster will continue to blow up in Asia or eventually fizzle out as it did here. So far I've gotten several family members in the Philippines hooked on MySpace who tell me that it's become "cooler" to be on MySpace as it's seen as more elite (sort of like when Facebook first became popular here in US). Of course, that's only a few people, but who knows, maybe their MySpace will become our Facebook.