It turns out the rumors of a Viacom investment and partnership with social network Tagworld were accurate. Viacom invested a reported $40 million in the company for a minority stake (Tagworld was previously funded by Draper Fisher Jurvetson) and the two companies began working on new social networking products. Tagworld’s parent company has been renamed Social Project.
Tomorrow morning they are launching the fruit of that partnership – an ambitious new disaggregated social network around Viacom’s MTV, Comedy Central and other brands and associated websites called Flux.
Tagworld/Social Project cofounder Evan Rifkin and Mika Salmi, the president of Global Digital Media for MTV, walked me through the product earlier this afternoon. A screen shot of the unlaunched service is below.
The new service takes technology developed by Tagworld and Viacom’s existing Flux brand and creates distinct social network properties for each of the brands (some are launching now, hundreds are launching throughout the rest of the year). Like Ning, users who sign up for any network (say, Comedy Central’s) can join other networks (like MTV’s) with a single click.
As users add additional communities to their profile, they bring their content and friends with them. Flux is simultaneously a single brand as well as hundreds of distinct, branded social networks.
Not Just About Viacom Brands
Flux is opening up to companies and brands outside of the Viacom family. Twenty non-Viacom sites have been quietly testing the service for some time. See, for example, Vinyl Pulse and 50Cent. Both have integrated social networks built by Tagworld. They’re not yet co-branded under the Flux service, but will be now that the service is officially launching. New third party sites will soon be able to apply to join the Flux network; in the future there an API and other tools will become available that will let anyone join.
But Flux really is a network of networks. While it is most like Ning, the walls between the Flux networks are very porous – uses drag content (photos, videos, etc.) between sites, perhaps grabbing a video from the 50Cent site and presenting it on their profile at the MTV site. While each community has distinct branding, the individual users see groupings of brands that they enjoy under a single profile.
What Happens To Taworld?
The existing Tagworld site remains as is, although the company is turning off new registrations for now and focusing entirely on Flux.