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April 30, 2009

FriendFeed: A Growing Social Media Company that is Outgrowing Twitter

FriendFeed is a privately owned corporation which employs two people and is based in Mountain View, California.  The company provides a service that allows users to keep web pages with photos, and music files that the user can share with friends and relatives online.  The way FriendFeed works is that a user can sign up with FriendFeed and that user can receive a customized feed that is made up with content shared by friends, relatives or close acquaintances that can range from a whole array of data, which can be either news articles, family snapshots or music files that one or a few might like or find interesting.  FriendFeed can also link up with other social networks, including YouTube.  For example, if a user’s friend or relative has a video on YouTube, it will be linked with a thumb nail onto the user’s customized feed. 

FriendFeed is also fast and unbelievably easy for users to have online discussions about the items shared on the customizable feeds on FriendFeeds.  To further the potential of FriendFeed is that users do not need to install any special software to use FriendFeed.  All they need to do is register on the FriendFeed website and log onto the service.  FaceBook users, however, can use their FaceBook application on FriendFeed and connect your FaceBook profile on the internet.

Who is the management team that is running this fast growing website?  The team is eleven dedicated people who run the FriendFeed network.  They are: Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Paul Buchheit, Sanjeev Singh, Ana Yang, Kevin Fox, Tudor Bosman, Casey Muller, Gary Burd, Dan Hsiao, and Benjamin Golub.

The four cofounders of the company are Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Paul Buchheit, and Sanjeev Singh.  Mr. Taylor has experience with social networking because he has been working for prominent networks, such as Google; where he played a key role in launching Google Maps and also founded Google’s Developer series of products.  Just before founding FriendFeed, Mr. Taylor was a resident entrepreneur at Benchmark Capital.  Bret Taylor graduated from Stanford University with a BS and an MS in Computer Sciences.   Like Bret Taylor, Jim Norris also worked at Google where he worked as a software engineer and worked together with Bret Taylor in launching Google Maps, as well as being part of Googles main infrastructure team.  Paul Buchheit is a graduate from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in Computer Sciences and worked at Intel and then Google.  At Google, Mr. Buchheit was instrumental in launching Gmail and is also credited with creating Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto and the creation of the first Adsense prototype.   Before co-founding FriendFeed, Sanjeev Singh also worked at Google like Bret Taylor, Jim Norris and Paul Buchheit.  Sanjeev’s role at Google was to work on Gmail.  Before working for Google, Mr. Singh worked at a government research laboratory, known as the Third Voice.  Mr. Singh graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science.

The rest of the team are responsible for the various functions of FriendFeed and making the company successful and provide stiff competition to some of the major social networks, such as FaceBook. 

The vc firm that invests in FriendFeed is Benchmark Capital and cofounders Sanjeev Singh and Paul Buchheit also invest in the company. 

Benchmark Capital is a vc firm that is dedicated to working with talented entrepreneurs in the tech industry.  Benchmark Capital stands out from other vc firms because Benchmark prides itself as being a team with the entrepreneurs that the firms partners invest in.   Benchmark’s investments can be small investments at $100,000 to a large investment that exceeds $10 to $15 million.   Other companies in the consumer market that Benchmark has invested in include 1-800-flowers.com, AOL, Art.com, Ofoto, Ebay, Ruba, uShip, JambaJuice, and others.

In October 1, 2007, FriendFeed was featured in the New York Times for its service that enables “friends share their discoveries.”   This was the first press release about FriendFeed after its founding in 2007.

In June 9, 2008, Fast Company.com raved that FriendFeed is “Twitter on Steroids,” stating that increasingly more people are starting to get all their information online.  This especially applies to the younger generation, who is already highly tech savvy.   The article further stated that more people get their information from news stories shared on social networks instead of watching the evening news cast on their television every night. 

According to Tech Crunch, FriendFeed is starting to take the lead in the social networking industry and is even starting to take the lead away from such prominent social networks, such as FaceBook and Twitter.  FriendFeed’s cofounder, Bret Taylor also told Tech Crunch that FriendFeed will even add RSS feeds in the near future.

FriendFeed does have quite a few competitors, the major one being FaceBook.   FaceBook is a social network that allows its users to connect with their friends or other people who they have been friends in school or in college and have not seen each other for a long time.   FaceBook is a privately owned corporation that was founded in February of 2004 and is based in Palo Alto, California with 600 employees.   FaceBook has twelve people on its management team and five people on its board of directors.

Another major competitor of FriendFeed is MyBlogLog, which is a subsidiary of Yahoo.com.  MyBlogLog offers services that are similar to the services that FriendFeed offers.  It allows users to connect with their friends, have blogs and share all kinds of information with each other.

Another competitor of FriendFeed is Jaiku, which is a social network that allows its users to share activity streams which contain logs of everyday events, events users are attending, etc.  Jaiku is a subsidiary of Google that is founded in 2006 with its base in Helsinki, Finland.   Jaiku employs eight people and has two people on its management team.

There are many other competitors in the social networking industry that provide a competitive playing field for FriendFeed.  Some of these companies include Chirp Interactive, Plunk, Ping.fm, PerfSpot, Swurl, YouAre, and others.

Click here to find more about FriendFeed.