What is Webjam? Last time I looked is was a highly customisable home page creator. Founded in 2006 in London by a talented team led by former Yahoo! exec Yann Motte, it bundles community features with a drag-and-drop interface in a modular format. But it has been hard to really put a finger on where it’s big USP is, despite it being called (somewhat inaccurately) an “alternative to Facebook” by the BBC and winning .NET magazine’s people’s choice award. Was it really a MySpace plus Netvibes on steroids?
However, now Webjam says it has a new renewed vigor and focus. It has upgraded its platform and is positioning itself along the lines of Ning, where you create and collaborate on your own community, rather than just produce personal home pages. You can suck in feeds from Flickr, YouTube, Amazon search, Google Maps etc etc, you name it. Identity management and APIs and allowing community owners to monetise their sites is also in the plan. There are lots more privacy settings and customised profiles letting you show just what you want. A more granular Facebook, maybe.
My question is, will all this be enough of a differentiator? And will Yahoo and Netvibes – also now concentrating on start pages and community fetaures – end up squashing Webjams efforts?
There is also the problem of following down Ning’s path. It’s already been accused of becoming a Porn Web ring, unable or unwilling to control the spread of its communities. And if Google buys Ning to acquire a social network white label platform were does that leave Webjam? Google isn’t going to buy two companies in this space, surely? Then there is Flux, a new social network joint venture between Viacom and SocialProject, which is a full on Ning competitor.
I really hope Webjam can re-position itself in the market with a strong, clear offering, and it looks like they are heading in the right direction. They raised a first round of £1 million in March 2007 from French early-stage VC I-source Gestion. They are now preparing for the 2nd round.
But it looks like there is going to be a lot of competition on the horizon, some of it useful (confirming the market), some of it not so.
(If you want to know more check out their London event on Wednesday January 30).