FatDoor Closes Its Doors. Reopens as Centerd.

Maybe it is just because it had a really bad name. Or maybe it is because nobody really likes their neighbors. Or, if they do, they actually prefer to talk to them in person. Whatever the reason, FatDoor, a social network for neighbors, is closing its doors. We are placing it in the deadpool. Visitors to the site, which sadly never even emerged out of private beta, can now see nothing but unintelligible gobbledy gook.

fatdoor-screen-small.pngWhile the site is dead, the company behind it that raised $7 million in venture capital—$5.5 million of which it collected just last November from Keynote Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners—is not. It is rebooting as Center’d, an event planning and neighborhood search site that is still in stealth mode. But don’t worry, I snuck in and took pictures (see below).

Fatdoor’s CEO Jennifer Dulski (a former Yahoo exec) and CTO Chandu Thota (a former Microsoft engineer) are still running Center’d. In the “about” page, they acknowledge that “Center’d evolved from a concept (formerly called Fatdoor) that aimed to bring neighbors together in an online community environment.” They also lay out what they hope to accomplish with Center’d:

At Center’d, we’ve been thinking about how to solve the challenges that exist in making plans. From the smallest get together, where you just can’t decide on where to eat . . . to the large fundraisers and school activities that require signups and hundreds of emails and weeks of meticulous planning . . ..

Hear us out. We can give you the tools you need to easily organize people, places, and times. Using the latest space-age technology, we have concocted features such as:

• Polling tools: Enable your guests to take some of the burden of coming to consensus on the place and time to meet.
• Task Management and Volunteer Sign-up: Now you can easily get the team you need to do the stuff you need.
• Connection management and calendar sharing: Now that you are suddenly so organized, and ready to pull off the perfect girls’ night out/summer camp/grandparents day/birthday party/first date/last date, let’s make sure those who are important to you can view your calendars. But not everyone, and not every event. We can keep a secret.
• Explore neighborhoods: We’ll even help you out with finding other places and events. How would you like a view of your world filtered by the recommendations of people you trust? How would you like to be at the center, and have the people, places, and plans you care about revolve around you, just waiting to be experienced? We like that idea. In fact, we like it so much, we built it.

Center’d is both a local search engine and an event-planning application. You can search places for restaurants, hotels, schools, museums, stores, etc., and the results appear on a Google map. There is also a calendar view. Once you connect with friends on the system their events pop up in your searches. And you can also create your own events and get your friends to help decide the details. For instance, things like the location and date can be voted on. Want to have a party by the sea? Ask your invited guests if they’d rather go to Stimson Beach or Montaro Beach, and if next Sunday is better than this Saturday. You can also assign tasks for them to sign up for: bring lobsters, bring wine, bring volleyball.

The site is perfectly serviceable and looks like it will do a decent job with both event planning and local search. The interface is heavy on Ajax, with the screen telescoping open as you go through the options. It is very similar to Pingg in that regard, except it is much more limited in what it can do. But Center’d is also not doing anything appreciably different from many other startups on the event-planning side, including Pingg, Socializr, and MyPunchbowl. It does have the local search piece, but so does Yelp, Yahoo, and Google.

Still, when you are starting out with FatDoor, anything is an improvement.