August 6, 2008

Friendster Raises Funds for Expansion in Asia

By Brad Stone

Don't count Friendster out yet.

The pioneering social network, surpassed by MySpace and Facebook in most of the world, is still going strong in Asia, and now it plans to build on its success there.

On Tuesday, the company was to announce a $20 million investment round and the nomination of a new chief executive, Richard Kimber, the regional managing director of South Asia for Google.

The financing will be led by IDG Ventures and includes past Friendster backers like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Benchmark Capital.

Friendster, based in San Francisco, helped the concept of social networking gain broad acceptance before it nearly foundered amid technical problems and management chaos.

It says it has more than 75 million users, though many who signed up in the early days have not used it for some time.

It also says it is the most popular social network in Asia, with 33 million monthly unique visitors from the region - twice the amount any other social network.

Beyond expanding in Asia, one clue to Friendster's future plans might be found in its description of itself in its latest press release. Friendster says it has "a growing portfolio of patents granted to the company on social networking, with more expected over the next several months."

Friendster v. Facebook in a U.S. District court, perhaps?

Originally published by The New York Times Media Group.

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