A good two years before Mark Zuckerberg had broken the social networking ground on the Internet with Facebook, we fancied ourselves with our friends and relatives on Friendster. All thanks to Jonathan Abrams for founding it in 2002.
Friendster was where all our lousy e-mail addresses were born, where the glittery graphics were a social convention, and where background music can be played while in a friend’s profile.
Unlike Facebook, it was the site where users can get creative with a customizable profile layout: we were able to choose background pictures, fonts, and colors. It also had a feature where the users can know who visited their profiles, the ‘Who’s Viewed Me,’ which pretty much got us holding back with stalking our crushes.
Needless to say, it set the benchmark for all the social networking sites that we have now. But what exactly happened to our favorite online habit back then?
How Friendster Has Fallen Down
The answer to “What happened to Friendster?” can be summed up in this two-word sad story: people left.
While Google wanted to buy Friendster for $30 million back in 2003, the site already lost its patrons in the US by 2006. But with the Southeast Asian supporters that clung by, it stayed for a few more years; until a site redesign in 2009 basically killed the social networks, and further re-launched in 2011 as a gaming site emptying almost all of its previous data.
It was sort of a “controlled demolition,” as described by Swiss Federal Institute of Technology professor David Garcia, who had an autopsy of the website along with fellow researchers.
They found that in 2009, Friendster still had tens of millions of users but with loose links of people in the networks. Many users no longer have connection with other members, who eventually found their own connections. It created affiliations that were already so loose, which users found to be such a hassle connecting with the others.
They also believe that successful networks rely on K-cores, who are essentially the hearts of the groups who had the most amounts of friends and the personality to be resilient and influential.
Apart from those reasons, its founder Jonathan Abrams shared his story on Mashable about why it wasn’t as successful as it was deemed to be.
Abrams pointed out that it also had plans on dominating college campuses but to no avail it did happen. It also had plans on putting up a newsfeed and a social graph all ahead of Facebook but it failed to surface. There were problems in technology issues, too, but unfortunately weren’t the focus of the site’s investors. Somehow it contributed to the downfall.
Friendster was given a chance to buy Facebook, yup, but Zuckerberg was too pricey. It came a time where the tables have turned – Facebook bought Friendster’s entire portfolio of social networking patents. Big sites also tried to buy Friendster but Abrams and his team didn’t give in to the offers of Yahoo!, AOL, and Google.
Imagine if Abrams took a different turn in their decisions, would Friendster still dominate the social networking scene and all of us still convene there?
What Friendster Left Us
Friendster, to those who are still interested of the website, has taken a break as of this posting. It shut down indefinitely on June 14, 2015.
Before it has gone on a hiatus, Friendster focused on entertainment and fun where people can play games and music. The fun of the website was basically sucked out after it removed all photos and blogs on June 27, 2011, an extended deadline to export data from May 31, 2011.
What Friendster left us essentially is the pain of giving us very little warning of saving our most treasured files which majority weren’t backed up.