what-happened-to-friendster

What happened to Friendster?

Friendster was a social networking service founded by Jonathan Abrams in 2002. Early versions of Friendster functioned in much the same way as eventual successor Facebook. As the social media market consolidated, by 2009, Friendster was purchased by Malaysian company MOL Global. That same year, MOL Global sold 18 Friendster patents to Facebook. Friendster remained relatively popular in southeast Asia for a few more years until it was shut down in 2015. 

Background

Friendster was a social networking service founded by Jonathan Abrams in 2002.

It went live in 2003 and secured three million users in the first three months. Launched before the likes of Myspace and Facebook, Friendster was one of the earliest social media networks to gain mass appeal.

It was particularly popular in Asia where it boasted around 115 million registered users at its peak in 2011. 

Friendster was successful because it was more than a simple social networking site. It provided opportunities for its users to make new friends and stay in touch with old ones.

Users could also discover new events, brands, and hobbies in addition to sharing content. Early versions of Friendster functioned in much the same way as eventual successor Facebook.

This begs the question: why did Friendster close in 2015 while Facebook continues to be a social media juggernaut? In truth, it was due to a combination of reasons.

A change of direction

Near the peak of its popularity, Friendster made the fateful decision to transition from a social networking site into a gaming site.

They did this without consulting their current users, who lost the content they had placed on Friendster during the shift.

As a result, many became disenfranchised and began deserting the platform to competitors such as Facebook.

The gaming platform itself was well regarded and functional. But it appealed to a smaller section of Friendster’s original user base.

The company also missed a massive opportunity to profit from the rise of social media by deviating from its core offering at the worst possible time. 

What’s more, the gaming platform was enjoyable for users but only up to a certain point.

Sites such as Facebook incorporated news feeds into their social networks which continuously served fresh content to users.

This was a crucial addition that separated Facebook from Friendster and other such sites.

A lack of new features

Despite the lack of a news feed, it might be surprising to learn that Friendster had slated one for development. The company also had plans to launch a college edition and develop a social graph.

These plans never materialized because of constant tech issues and a lack of investor interest. Had these features been implemented, Friendster may have become the Facebook of today.

Venture capital funding 

Friendster turned down a lucrative acquisition offer from Google worth $30 million in 2003. It also received similar offers from AOL and Yahoo.

Instead, Abrams chose to fund the growth of the company through venture capitalists.

This populated the company board of directors with individuals who channeled funds into low-impact initiatives and not technology-focused development.

Tech issues and patent sales

Friendster gradually fell by the wayside as it continued to lose market share to Facebook. 

Inadequate investment of company funds meant the user experience was poor and neglected, with pages routinely slow to load or not loading at all.

Friendster also had difficulty in managing the new subscribers it did manage to obtain.

In 2009, Friendster was purchased by Malaysian company MOL Global. That same year, MOL Global sold 18 Friendster patents to Facebook. 

Friendster remained relatively popular in southeast Asia for a few more years until it was shut down in 2015. 

Key takeaways:

  • Friendster was a social networking site that then transitioned to a gaming platform. Ultimately, Friendster failed to capitalize on its early success as one of the first social media platforms to experience mass uptake. 
  • When Friendster became a gaming platform, it failed to notify its user base. This set in motion the migration of users to Facebook which would continue for some years.
  • Friendster’s decision to raise funds via venture capital funding populated its board with investors who were not interested in technology or innovation. The company was acquired by MOL Global in 2009 who then sold its patents to Facebook soon after.

Other Failure Stories

What Happened to WeWork

what-happened-to-wework
WeWork is a commercial real estate company providing shared workspaces for tech start-ups and other enterprise services. It was founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in 2010. WeWork’s business model was built on complex arrangements between the company and its landlords. There were also several conflicts of interest between Neumann and WeWork, which provided the impetus for the failed IPO and significant devaluation that would follow.

What Happened to Netscape

what-happened-to-netscape
Netscape – or Netscape Communications Corporation – was a computer services company best known for its web browser. The company was founded in 1994 by Marc Andreessen and James H. Clark as one of the internet’s first and most important start-ups. The Netscape Navigator web browser was released in 1995 and became the browser of choice for the users of the time. By November 1998, it had been acquired by AOL, which tried unsuccessfully to revive the popularity of the web browser. Ten years later, Netscape was shut down entirely.

What Happened to Musical.ly

what-happened-to-musically
Musically, or Musical.ly as it is officially known, was a Chinese social media platform headquartered in Shanghai. After passing 200 million users in May 2017, the platform was shut down by tech company ByteDance in November. After its acquisition, ByteDance suggested Musical.ly would continue to operate as a standalone platform. Company representatives noted that it would be able to leverage ByteDance’s AI technology and enormous reach in the Chinese market. Musically was ultimately absorbed into TikTok in June 2018, with the app no longer available in August of the same year. Existing users were offered technical support and several new features as a sweetener.

What Happened to Vine

what-happened-to-vine
Vine was an American video social networking platform with a focus on looping video clips of six seconds in length, founded by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll in 2012 to help people capture casual moments in their lives and share them with their friends. Vine went on to become a massively popular platform. Yet by 2016, Twitter discontinued the mobile app, allowing users to view or download content on the Vine website. It then announced a reconfigured app allowing creators to share content to a connected Twitter account only. This marked the end of Vine.

What Happened to CNN Plus

what-happened-to-cnn-plus
CNN Plus was a video streaming service and offshoot of CNN’s cable TV news network that was launched on March 29, 2022. The service was ultimately shut down just one month after it was launched. Trouble began for the platform when parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery. The latter was unimpressed with paltry viewer data and, with $55 billion in debt to clear, was not interested in funding CNN+ moving forward. Other contributing factors to CNN Plus’s demise include a lack of compelling content and streaming service market saturation.

What Happened to Clubhouse

what-happened-to-clubhouse
Clubhouse is a social app that allows thousands of people to communicate with each other in audio chat rooms. At one point, the company was worth $4 billion and boasted users such as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Clubhouse declined because it rode the wave of pandemic lockdowns and suffered when people resumed their normal routines. The decision to remove the invite-only feature also caused a rapid influx of new members and removed any exclusivity. Clubhouse management also failed to define a business model and was unaware of the components of a successful social media site.

What Happened to Facebook

what-happened-to-facebook

Main Free Guides:

Scroll to Top
FourWeekMBA