It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It
The New York Times has dedicated its front page web spot to a story on the incestuous world of ex-Facebookers and the many companies they have spawned, funded and acquired since leaving Facebook. It should probably strike you as unsurprising at this point that the majority of these people are newly-rich white dudes with vast amounts of influence.
The climate for Internet startups is heating up. Startups are closing rounds faster, getting popular more quickly, scoring higher valuations and getting acquired with increasing greediness. As local luminary and angel investor Chris Dixon notes, the preponderance of hockey stick growth among the top tier of startups is creating a heavy set of expectations that weighs upon the littler startups. These A-list startups are like the impossibly pretty cheerleaders or the improbably studly jocks who discourage the rest of the high school with their sheer existence. They’re the “it” startups, and they can do no wrong. In other words: they’re hot.
Branch is billed as a curated discussion platform, but we’ve also found it to be an excellent tool for eavesdropping.
Today, Josh Miller–the founder of Branch who thinks San Francisco is ‘too nice‘–started a conversation on the platform entitled, “Houses, Schools, and Town Squares – Building Next Generation Social Products.” Several tech heavyweights chimed in to discuss a metaphor coined by ex-Facebooker and current Path CEO Dave Morin that compares Facebook to a town square–prompting Eric Fisher, who wrote Facebook’s Social Design Guidelines to help you build great social experiences, to protest that the social network is actually “centered on individuals and their friends which is a very self-serving, egocentric model.”
Alley vs. Valley
By the tweets of it, everyone, their mom, and Jennifer 8. Lee showed up for Y Combinator’s biggest Demo Day evah last night to watch the parade of hoodies try to convince folks they have the next Airbnb. To make sure no one got bored, the thoughtful editors of the Daily Muse even put together a BINGO card of expected phrases (that could also work well as a Mad Libs): “We make it easy to disrupt the future of ________. Please ignore the label-less Y axis on our chart of ______. So if you’re _______ come talk to us. “
But one company that seems to have emerged from the fray is Pair, an app built for two that lets couples send each other messages, pictures, and thumbkisses, which is when both users press their thumb to the screen at the same time, making the phones vibrate. It sounds like a mobile version of OurSpot, the social network (population: 2), we told you about in January, minus the good vibrations, of course.
Around the time of the demise of Jumo, the social network for nonprofits and activists started by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, Betabeat got an email from a source intimately familiar with the social media startup sector. “I’m intrigued by the fact that Facebook doesn’t seem to be proving to have the kind of second-act momentum among early employees that PayPal had, and I wonder why that is,” the source wrote. “I don’t have high hopes for Asana, Quora, or Path either, but maybe it’s too early to make a judgment call.”
With the rise of secondary trading, many Facebook employees have already cashed out. The company’s hefty exodus of early employees has been well-documented. Sarah Lacy, writing for TechCrunch, identified the emergence of a “Facebook mafia” as “early and distinct” last year. But with the Facebook-spawned startups still unproven, is it fair to say that yet?
A startup called Ourspot launched in beta today with a novel proposition: Take Path’s 50-person limit and cut it down to size. Like way down.
The network lets couples or close friends privately share links and content with each other that also serves “as a document of a relationship,” (yup, singular) says AllThingsD’s Liz Gannes. And there you were thinking they’d run out of ideas for social networks!
Path, a social network focused on sharing with a limited circle of close friends and family, was launched with much hype by Dave Morin, formerly of Facebook. Path allowed users only 50 friends. But last week the increased that number to 150, sometimes referred to as the Dunbar number, after Robert Dunbar, a sociologist who posited that 150 was the upper limit of meaningful social connections a single human could have.
“The problem with 50 is that it is annoying but not structurally useful,” said tech intellectual Clive Thompson, who has written extensively on Dunbar’s number. “When I first heard of path my thought was, don’t go with 50, go with 10 or 3, make it really interesting, like, this is a group for me to pay serious attention.”