Social News Startup Nuzzel Opens To Everyone, Announces Former Friendster Exec Kent Lindstrom As COO

Nuzzel, the social news service created by Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams, is leaving beta testing and opening to all users.

Previously, you had to request an invite before you could use Nuzzel. In the year-plus since I first covered the company, Abrams said Nuzzel has brought on about 3,000 testers, but now it’s time to see whether the product appeals to a broader audience.

He argued that the underlying vision hasn’t changed, and it’s one that’s “still pretty unique.” Instead of using machine learning to understand user interests, or summarizing the news with human editors, Nuzzel does something simpler — once you’ve signed in with your Twitter or Facebook account, it will show you a list of the stories shared by your friends (along with their commentary), arranged either chronologically or based on whatever’s been shared by the most people.

Nuzzel’s approach is supposed to give you a feed of the most talked-about news, tailored to your interests, without requiring any real setup on your part.

“That vision is a solid vision and it’s creating something people are coming to use over and over again,” Abrams said.

He added that the underlying tech infrastructure has changed dramatically to support user growth, additional features, and mobile apps. Speaking of apps, although Nuzzel is currently available as a website for desktop and mobile devices, Abrams said an iPhone app is “95 percent done” and should launch within the next month or two.

In addition to opening the service, Nuzzel is also making user news feeds public. In other words, anyone can now see the feeds created for other users, including Abrams and me. What’s cool about these feeds is that they don’t require any manual curation or sharing, but they still reflect a user’s interests, and they’re a fun way to cast a wider net when exploring the news. (News feeds are only public if they were created using a public Twitter account, and anyone with a public feed can choose to make it private.)

Nuzzel is also announcing that it has hired Kent Lindstrom as its chief operating officer. It’s a Friendster reunion, of sorts, as Lindstrom previously served as both CEO and vice president of finance at Friendster. (Judging from Lindstrom’s LinkedIn profile, the hire happened last fall but wasn’t announced until now.)