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Rumor: Google to buy Friendster. Hard to believe

We've heard a nasty rumor that Google has put out a bid out for Friendster -- and it comes from someone who previously worked at Friendster.

We don't usually write about rumors, but we wanted to check with Google to see how they'd respond.

"We cannot comment on rumor or speculation," said Eileen Rodriguez, a spokeswoman.

We haven't done a definitive tally of how Google responds to these sorts of things, but note that this "no comment" is much more sparse than the outright denials Google has issued in the past when something isn't true, including its response to rumors last week about a possible acquisition of Napster.

"We have no plans to acquire Napster, nor do we have plans to develop a music store at this time," Google spokeswoman Sonya Boralv said in a statement.

We don't want to read too much into...

this; we're just saying. Meanwhile, my colleague, Michael Bazeley (we call him Baze) mutters beside me: "That's a great idea. Now they can merge the uninteresting Friendster with the uninteresting Orkut."

True, it would be a great way for Google to have the last laugh. Remember, they made a $30 million bid for Friendster back in 2003, as we first reported here, and were spurned by Friendster when the start-up chose to take $13 million in venture capital from Kleiner Perkins and Benchmark instead.

The problem with this theory is that it would seem to contradict recent rumors that Kleiner Perkins has stepped into save the company -- unless of course Google's offer came after the Kleiner deal.

Here is the earlier rumor noted by TechCrunch:

...They [Kleiner] have injected limited additional funds (Ive heard numbers between $5 million and $12 million) and have restructured the capitalization of the company to heavily favor their fund (this would be customary in a recapitalization). No reports as to whether Benchmark or Battery were also involved, or whether the current executive team will be looking for new jobs.

Update: More rumors, that the round was done at a $3m pre-money valuation. This is not a healthy company.

We checked with Kleiner, and they declined comment.

Meanwhile, here's a look at the traffic of YouTube, MySpace and Friendster, which we'll entitle "Friendster's Woes, YouTube Goes."

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re comments of "baze" regarding friendster and orkut : uninteresting? I believe there are a few million brazilians and asians who would beg to disagree with him. This just goes to show another example of ethocentricity, just because it doesnt hit in the States doesnt mean it's a flop everywhere else, and vice-versa too.

ACS on February 6, 2006 5:55 PM
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This is interesting, Matt. I'd like to follow up on this...

Helen Wang on February 6, 2006 8:25 PM
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Someone please give Friendster a good home and save it. I worked with Friendster in 2003 (http://www.courtlandbrooks.com/html/friendster.html) before starting my little consultancy. They were 'outfriendstered' by MySpace and Facebook. Can Friendster scratch back a decent position? Friendster hit the 'connectors' at the point of curiosity. But, curiosity killed the cat...it wasn't enough. MySpace hit the 'connectors' at their point of passion, music...and went one step further by empowering them with more means of customising their 'space.' Facebook hit the connectors at their point of pain, fear of loss of contact with their valuable alumni network. Facebook has the highest integrity network and represents the biggest 'threat' to the online dating market.

Mark Brooks

Mark Brooks on February 10, 2006 11:41 AM
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I agree with ACS Friendster is definitely not uninteresting! Many of my internet clients use Friendster and none use MySpace.
It's not ethnocentricity though it's merely marketing: Ireland's The Corrs are heavy here in the Philippines while are almost ignored in the US.

Bong Obaldo on February 26, 2006 11:06 PM
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