Nearing 1 Million Users, Path Stays The Course

Founded by Dave Morin, the co-inventor of Facebook Connect, Sean Fanning, the co-inventor of Napster, and Dustin Mierau, the co-inventor of Macster, Path has some serious street cred when it comes to social and sharing. What’s more, there was the impressive list of investors backing the photo-sharing app in November of last year, and the sizable series A follow-on investment led by Kleiner Perkins in February.

At about the same time, Google reportedly tried to buy the startup for $100 million+, to which Path collectively said “no, thank you”. The Google acquisition offer was likely a play at scooping up an impressive, design-oriented team and a high-profile former Facebooker would have been a nice addition.

Yet, though Path may have been showing Zynga-like engagement early on, the question has been whether or not Path could scale and find user adoption before it ran out of money. Those questions have continued to be hurled at Path, but today CEO Dave Morin put some of the speculation to rest, announcing from the stage at The Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco that the app is nearing 1 million users.

For those unfamiliar, Path is designed to help people share moments from their lives in context and in small, tight circles of friends and family. Path focuses (and will only continue to do more so) on one’s “trusted relationships”, which is why users are only able to share with 150 people — at most.

It’s a sharing model that many victims of Facebook’s sometimes complicated privacy settings and trend of over-sharing can get very excited about; however, Google+ is really trying to do the same thing and will provide some serious competition for Path going forward, whether the founders want to acknowledge that or not. Over the last 90 days, 3.4 billion photos have been uploaded to Google+, and Vic Gundotra and Sergey Brin both said from the stage today that Google’s social network is designed to be more like interacting socially in real life. You don’t share everything with everyone.

Of course, Path is all about the mobile sharing experience. And when Path 2 arrives sometime in the not-so-distant future, you can count on the new version continuing to privilege simplicity, intimacy, and ease of sharing. On stage today, Morin said that mobile users find themselves in many moments, where they want to talk to loved ones or family members about first dates, injuries, etc., and that these kind of moments are not always appropriate for Twitter or Facebook shares.

Thus, the startup wants to be the alternative path to mobile sharing. Privacy and intimacy first and foremost. But Path 2 better have some exciting new features, because Google+ will only continue to add integration with Google Apps, work in APIs, spread further across mobile, and at that point, Path may be in trouble.