Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Social Networking Confession

With the upcoming movie The Social Network opening at the beginning of October, it got me thinking about something I was involved with.

Confession time. I worked for a social network in late 2005-early 2006. It was one aimed at college students. But the one I was working at didn't start at Harvard.

Here is a bit of information about that, without getting into any specific detail.

I started working at the social network that shall not be named in October 2005, around the same time Newscorp had paid over half a billion dollars for Myspace, so it seemed like a wonderful time to be working in that particular sector of the industry.

I was the content developer for that particular enterprise, which meant that I wrote a lot of articles geared towards college students in a short amount of time. I mean, a lot, but I enjoyed the challenge, because we needed content, and I had to write them about so many different topics in a day, so it was easy to get mental whiplash.

It was also the first time I saw a Smart car in person, as they had leased one to use promotionally. That was pretty cool.

But since I am no longer working there, you can tell things didn't work out for this particular enterprise, and I am sure there are a lot of people who worked during the dotcom boom of the late 1990's who have some tales similar to mine.

I have to say that working there gave me a little bit of insight into how social networks are run, and it is only now that I understand why the company I worked for failed. The major reason was, a social network is a money sponge. It takes a lot of funds to get one going, and it takes a long time to even start approaching profitability, so if the finances are not in place, it is a proposition doomed to failure.

And since I didn't have a financial stake in the company aside from the paycheck, I can look on the situation philosophically.

When I play fantasy football, I sort of prefer to get blown out rather than lose by a few points, because knowing that I could have changed the outcome, that would just bug me, or when you are playing or rooting for a person/team in a tournament, and you/they lose, you sort of want the victor of that match to So getting beaten by Facebook, well, there wasn't really anything you could do at that point. It wasn't the juggernaut then that it is now, but when you look at the timeline, it was still a force to be reckoned with, and even if the finances were in place, I still think it would have been a losing battle. Facebook had the market position at that point, and they were going to open their registration to everyone, not just college and high school students within a few months of me being let go from my position.

In retrospect, it was an almost unwinnable situation. But it was fun while it lasted. And after looking into it, it seems that my boss landed on his feet as well, so I think it likely ended up being a huge learning experience for him as well, and I hope he is doing very well.

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