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Friendster Founder Claims He Invented Social Networking

Remember Friendster?
Remember Friendster? The first big social networking site that we all got excited about? The one with the gray smiley face for a logo? Nothing?

Friendster may have been first, but its reign at the top was short lived. The pioneering service was launched in March 2003 by computer programmer Jonathan Abrams, and by June of 2006 it had lost its spot as the most popular social networking site in the U.S. to MySpace.

A dejected Abrams spoke to the LA Times recently. "I invented this stuff, and now I'm paying for it," he told the paper, in reference to the constant barrage of requests and communications he receives via Facebook. The founder -- who envisioned Friendster as a place for close knit groups of friends to connect -- has abandoned his creation and adopted Facebook and Twitter to meet his social networking needs.

But Friendster is not dead; it lives on, kept afloat by a strong Asian user base (it has little presence in the U.S.). So what happened to this site that was so highly praised by mainstream magazines and late-night-talk shows? Abrams thinks it was done-in by its own success. A few months after launch, it had already attracted two million members and Abrams admitted to the LA Times that, through much of 2004, the site simply didn't work -- buried under its own traffic.

This left the site vulnerable to the MySpace onslaught, which took the basic Friendster concept and added a few important features -- namely, opening up membership to minors and offering greater control of user profiles.

Abrams must have seen the signs, because he left Friendster in 2005 to pursue some other new startups. His latest project, Socializr, is gearing up to take on Evite -- the leading electronic invitation site. At least nobody can say he's not ambitious. [From: LA Times and LA Times]

Tags: friendster, jonathan abrams, JonathanAbrams, top