Since I wrote about that social networking site iYomu and then predicted it wouldn’t go anywhere, I’ve never been back. The only “friends” who’ve tried to link to me there are two complete strangers trying to win the million dollar challenge. I stand by my prediction.
iYomu, that “social networking for grown ups” site I wrote about, officially launched today — with US$1M in prize money up for grabs. And I’ve just written an article for Crikey explaining why I don’t think it’ll fly. I also reckon Facebook will win out over MySpace.
My argument in the Crikey article is that the key to success on the Internet is massive, uncontrolled growth. That means attracting a lot of users fast — and then selling out to someone like Rupert Murdoch before it all implodes. The problem is, the very nature of iYomu works against that rapid growth.
“Every single person working in the media today who experienced the dot-com bubble in 1999 to 2000 believes that we are going through the exact same process and can expect the exact same results — a bust. It’s déjà vu all over again. And since this moment in time is only the beginning of the cycle, the best nuttiness has yet to emerge.”
It’s ironic reading those words by John C Dvorak the very day after seeing last night’s demo of iYomu, the “Social Networking for Grown Ups” website to be launched on 13 August. It’s also rather nostalgic.
iYomu is entering an over-hyped marketplace. MySpace is the biggest of the social media websites — pig-ugly and (last time I bothered with it) a tad unreliable. But it’s got 201 million users. If MySpace were a country, it’d be 5th-largest. Facebook is flavour of the month, “only” 11 million users but growing fast. Photo-sharing site Flickr gets 3000 new images uploaded every minute. They’re worth squillions. In theory.
Yet the vast majority of Internet users wouldn’t know what “social networking websites” are — indeed they can barely use email. And for all the success stories, there’s dozens of failures.
So as sharp-dressed Frances Valintine and a relaxed David Wolf-Rooney, both New Zealanders, presented their Vision to a small collection of eminent bloggers (plus me), I couldn’t help but wonder…
Will they become millionaires, or will it all crash and burn?
I also wondered how many times Frances would use the word space. I stopped counting at 15.
I’ll explore iYomu and report daily as it moves from beta to launch and beyond. I think it’ll make an excellent case study. If you’d like to join me and be eligible for the US$5000 prize draw, let me know and I’ll send you an invitation — though I’ll demand that you post at least one useful comment back and, if you win, buy me dinner.
(There’s also a Big Global Incentive to join once the site launches officially, and you’d be in that draw too, but that’s still a secret.)
There’s still one thing bothering me from last night, though. If iYomu is for “grown ups”, why doesn’t it have a grown-up name?
[Update: Check out this more detailed description from one of last night’s attendees. Saves me having to repeat the feature list. And also read my thoughts on why Facebook will beat both iYomyu and MySpace.]