I’ve covered a lot of white label social networking platforms in my fairly short time here at TechCrunch (see here and here). So when I initially heard of a new platform called HiveLive, which launched Monday at the DeFrag Show in Denver, I expected to see much of the same features that are available elsewhere.
In large part, my expectations were realized – HiveLive is a platform with a lot of standard social networking functionality. However, it also has some unique capabilities that organizations ought to note when trying to decide which SaaS platform to go with. These capabilities, in essence, give ordinary users the ability to control the modules deployed within a social network.
Social networks often incorporate many Web 2.0 tools that could stand alone elsewhere, such as blogs, forums, and wikis. With most platforms, the network administrator determines how these tools are deployed on the site: drop in a forum here, add a wiki there, and so on. The network users for the most part then have equal access to these predefined areas of interaction.
HiveLive is attempting to mix things up a bit by introducing customizable components they call “Hives”. Network users can choose to add their own hives to an existing social network, configure the type of hive (blog, forum, wiki, etc.), and then determine who within the network gets to use them (everyone or just a subset of friends and colleagues). This allows users to stake off their own areas of interaction and undergo activities from there.
Want to join with friends to run a blog about a shared interest? Create a new blog hive that everyone can see but only a few can edit. Want to collaborate on a project with team members using a wiki? Create a wiki hive that only a few people can access at all. The HiveLive platform is flexible enough so that you don’t even have to create a hive that’s easily categorized. If you just want to share a string of items with friends, you can create a blog-like page with a variety of data types. Users can also create their own hives by copying other hives with a few clicks of the button.
HiveLive was self-funded for its first couple of years but raised $1.6M from institutional angels towards the end of 2006. They’re calling their product the “LiveConnect Community Platform.”