Since ceding social network dominance to Myspace in 2004, Friendster has gone through massive reorganizations, countless consultants and three CEOs. Even a Kleiner partner fell due in part to his mismanagement of the company at the board level. However, under the current leadership of Kent Lindstrom, one of the founders (and CFO until taking over early this year), Friendster is making a comeback of sorts.
It turns out the key to making the social network work was pretty simple: creating a scalable architecture that served pages fast, and allowing users a degree of freedom in creating their pages (instead of a rigid hierarchy that leaves all pages looking more or less the same). The result? A steady and impressive growth in page views since Kent took over.
So it isn’t unexpected that Friendster would copy yet more features of long time rival Myspace. And instant messaging is next. Myspace launched an IM client (Windows only) earlier this month, to generally positive reviews.
Friendster’s version, which is in development, will be web chat, not a downloadable client (“Meebo” style). I am getting conflicting reports on this: one source says that the service will be created in partnership with Los Angeles based Userplane. Another says its being built offshore by the company itself. Either way, I have early, rough screen shots of the product, below, and not much more information.