Dutch social network Hyves sold to media group, as European-based networks feel the Facebook heat

Leading Dutch social network, Hyves, which for a long time held out against the encroachment of Facebook, is selling the entire company to Dutch media group TMG (Telegraaf Media Groep) for an undisclosed sum.

Hyves has a 68% penetration in the Netherlands, but lately we’ve been told that more and more people are talking about moving to Facebook.

Hyves was founded eight months after Facebook in 2004 by Raymond Spanjar, Koen Kam and Floris Rost van Tonningen. It has 10.6 million member accounts.

The move follows rumours of another European social network, Nasza Klasa in Poland, being put up for sale. Are Europe’s home-grown social startups finally cashing in their chips before the Facebook juggernaut rolls over their markets? Almost certainly. In the last few days we’ve also heard ‘European MySpace’ Netlog is aso having a tough time against Zuckerberg’s legions.

That a media company bought a social network is not unprecedented. Look at News Corporation’s acquisition of MySpace a few years ago, and AOL’s disastrous purchase of Bebo, subsequently sold for a pittance.

But the question is not if media comapnies can run social networks, they clearly can if they want. It’s whether they can innovate those networks fast enough in the face of the monster that is Facebook and often that issue is to do with developer talent.

So answer me this: if you were a developer, would you feel that you would be able to innovate as fast at social network owned by a large media company? Or at one which was run by an entrepreneur team? In my view, the answer is quite clearly in the latter.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.