13 thoughts on “Look Who’s Back: Friendster”

  1. Wrong! It’s already being monetized via SMS revenue sharing deals with the mobile carriers. It wouldn’t be huge money, but it’s not bad at all.

    Another interesting way to look at the data is via Google Trends. I restricted it to April 2006 to and clicked the “Regions” tab below the graph.
    http://google.com/trends?q=friendster, facebook&ctab=2&geo=all&date=2006-4

  2. Finally — people are starting to see the light! As the person who wrote the strategy, negotiated the carrier deals in the Philippines and launched Friendster Mobile while there, I have always believed that there was money to be made in SE Asia. Friendster launched the first mobile social network back in December 2004 — long before MySpace, Facebook, Flipt or anyone else. There is a lot that can be done internationally with the Friendster brand and userbase, and the mobile content and advertising markets are starting to catch up. Despite what people here in the US think about the brand, it is still the dominant brand in markets like Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Small markets, true — but growing… An MVNO deal is not the craziest thing in the world — with Friendster’s brand and userbase, and the carriers all killing themselves over marketshare, there is a big deal to be done that can serve as a model for other emerging markets…

    The bigger lesson here about Friendster’s success in Asia is that MYSP and Facebook are not necessarily worldwide phenoms. Look at Bebo in the UK and Ireland, or Mixi/Gree in Japan, or CyWorld in Korea. There is room for competition — the model that works in one country is not necessarily the model that will work in all (as CyWorld is bound to find out with their US expansion, and MYSP in the UK). Folks just focus on the US because that’s where our attention (and the bigger money — for now) is.

    Friendster has made a lot of progress with the product, and their numbers are turning around . . . but it’s the US Comscore and Media Metrix numbers that “the market” is watching. If those numbers start to trend upwards, there’ll be a real comeback story to be written.

  3. Friendster will be launching a DIY mobile advertising system soon called FAds in the Philippines that allows Filipinos to advertise directly on friendster.com

    More info here:

    To Joe’s comments, there’s lots of ways to make money in SE Asia. Third/developing world doesn’t mean no moolah. You have to choose your battles carefully.

  4. The massive growth of the users in the Phillipines is what drove off the Americans from Friendster, just as the Brazilians drove away the Americans from Orkut.

    MySpace deliberately ignored the Phillipine/Malaysian market, and it was a good move.

    MySpace registers more US users in one day than Friendster deos in a month.

    It’s not true that MySpace is not dominating the UK. It’s much bigger than Bebo or any other site in the UK (50 million people), Bebo is only big in Ireland (4 million people).

    China is the untapped market, not the Phillipines. There is no site that’s dominant there.

  5. The key will be separating the brands across domains, databases, etc…Lance was right when he stated the Brazilians drove away the Americans from Orkut.

    Having been a longtime member of MySpace, I recently found myself bored and as a result trying to find a new “home.” I resorted to Friendster to only be disappointed by the obvious influx of members from other countries. I find it pointless. For me the value of social networks lies in extending my personal network, but there is a limit.

    Sites should not fully integrate multiple brands, but rather provide a workaround for adding friends from another country.

  6. Nods to Terence and Joe above, who have both come to the Philippines and believe that it can generate value for Friendster, by either building services here for the company, or forging tie-ups that can bring in revenue.

    I believe that Friendster’s primary driver in the next 2-3 years in the Philippines will be advertising and SMS revshare, which is why my company manages their ad sales efforts in the Philippines (http://www.pinoyexchange.com/friendster).

    One thing that separates the Philippines from other markets is the lack of a decent transaction model; very few of our market’s 10 million Internet users can buy anything online. As a result, the Web is hardly a sales medium in the Philippines.

    SMS is extremely prevalent here; my only worry is that the VAS tariffs here are much too small. The amount of revenue per content download is miniscule compared to the First World.

    Friendster, though, has amassed one of the most compelling databases of young Filipinos in the world, and brands over here are extremely interested in making their first ever online placements via Friendster.

    Outside of Friendster, only Yahoo has a greater number of page views and uniques. And after Friendster, the other players are much smaller in terms of participation and scale.

    This makes the site a compelling platform for SMS-VAS and online advertising, which is just starting to become a viable option in the Philippines for brands. If either can generate sufficient volume, Friendster will have found a compelling alternative niche for themselves.

  7. “very few of our market’s 10 million Internet users can buy anything online. As a result, the Web is hardly a sales medium in the Philippines.”—> well stated, which means Friendster’s growing number of users doesn’t mean they’re making money.

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