Bring on some social networking M&A
The appeal of Facebook is waning. United Online (UNTD:NASDAQ) pulled the proposed initial public offering of Classmates.com last December (see prior post “Classmates.com to go public, then implode” September 18-07), while Plaxo and LinkedIn both rolled out new interfaces as they try to stay relevant.
Although I still maintain that Classmates is dead-man-walking, it may not be too late. LinkedIn may survive solely on the backs on business people who can’t bring themselves to join Facebook. But they can be so much more.
Here’s a simple idea: fortify the offering by joining forces with a site that is actually useful, such as Geni.com or Ancestry.com. It crosses all generation ranges, which is more than one can say for most of the applications and wikkies you’ll come across (see prior post “Linked In & Classmates.com on death watch” July 8-07).
I recognize that Classmates doesn’t have much to do with ones’ relatives, but the idea of finding old highschool crushes isn’t all that different than finding dead relatives. At least the relatives “care” that you exist, which is more than I suspect of that girl Lisa who was dating your friend in Grade 12.
Similarily with LinkedIn, what if it turned out that you were related to Jack Welsh or Edgar Bronfman Jr.? This is crucial information, and could affect your career in business or politics.
In the case of Facebook, they may have deep pockets, but the revenue model is still in the offing. At least Ancestry.com can squeeze people for $24.95/month for a 12 month subscription. Fold them together, and you might find out that you’re related to Madonna, Rick Segal or Ashley Dupre for that matter. Now that’s useful data!
Geneology – the ultimate in social networking.