CNET rolls out "College Live" at Webshots

Webshots, a photo publishing and sharing service which was acquired by CNET in August 2004, is starting to launch social networking features to compete with the more cutting edge photo services like Flickr. Last month they launched the social networking features. Later today they will launch a new service called “College Live”, which targets the 30 million or so U.S. young adults between 18-25 years.

College live is a network of college specific Webshots sites that focus on photos from students at that college, and event planning. It’s for students only, and Webshots is using the same method as Facebook to try and keep a sense of exclusivity – by requiring the use of a .edu email address. The idea is to create a sense of community around those photos and events, and allow students to get to know eachother. It targets the same audience as Facebook, but offers different features. And while photos uploaded to a specific college site will be grouped there, the individual pictures will also be available on Webshots as well.

A screenshot of a college landing page is below. Additional screen shots (as well as a couple of pictures I took during my briefing) are here.

Webshots is a very large property, with about 40 million total users and 300 million photos. CNET as a whole, by the way, is still growing at a healthy rate – they had an average of 116 million unique monthly visitors in Q4 last year, which was up 13% from the same period in 2004. Average daily page views increased to 103 million, up 22 % from 2004. CNET says they want to be the Viacom of the online space with a number of standalone properties addressing different market. Along with Webshots, recent acquisitions of dating site Consumating and food site Chowhound show this strategy in action. Webshots is another (very large) property helping them achieve this goal.

Note: If you’d like to hear about the fascinating history of Webshots prior to CNET’s acquisition, listen to the first few minutes of this podcast, where Narendra Rocherolle, one of the founders, tells the story.