Looking for the Web's Next Star
PayPal employee, and has since become one of Silicon Valley's most prolific angel investors (sinking his money into social networking sites including Facebook, Friendster, Digg, Flickr and so many others. He tells me he's got extremely high hopes for LinkedIn since, "We are the largest english speaking network by a very long margin." Kind of like the business community meets mySpace. And with 9 million registered users already, LinkedIn is quickly hitting the critical mass necessary that could make it exceedingly attractive to the likes of Google , Yahoo , even Salesforce.com and Microsoft . By the way, as a key investor in Facebook, he confided in me that he "totally supported" the company's decision not to sell out to Yahoo.
"If we get every professional using us as their way they manage their key relationships and solve key problems, there are tons of applications that we can build on it," says Hoffman. "Now the internet is much more penetrated into people's lives. So if you build services on the web, they actually pertain to lots more people. A lot more people have broadband penetration, Lots more people use e-mail and have access to it. That allows you to build applications and change people's lives."
Socializr.com comes from well known entrepreneur Jonathan Abrams who first brought us Friendster and is determined not to make the same mistakes he made with that startup. There was a social networking pioneer that couldn't handle the huge interest it generated, failed to scale up enough infrastructure, and then stalled. But don't count Friendster out yet. Both Abrams and Hoffman still remain very optimistic that its future may be brighter than most people think.
"When you have a site that people want to use and it is too slow and too buggy, and people can't get on, there's no question that alternatives are going to arise," says Abrams. "That is really the number one, number two and number three problem that Friendster had, that people can't get on the site."
Meantime, socializr.com continues to generate the buzz with Abrams telling me: "Social networking sites are more popular than ever." Socializr is a kind of one-stop shop of planning, scheduling, meeting, communicating and otherwise just keeping in touch and enjoys millions of regular users.
"Lets recognize that there is a social context in the real world and bring that online," says Abrams.
All three guys who survived -- even thrived -- during the first boom and bust -- say they're determined not to make the same mistakes they and so many of their colleagues made the first time around. This time, it's all about real growth, real profits and real trends that matter to their customers.
"These people are veterans of the early dot com era. They are not going to get burned again," says Adelson.
So keep an eye on digg, linkedin and socializr, either as the next big star that commands that big-time Silicon Valley payday, or ushers in a new era of dot-com IPOs.
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