Friendster plans to nuke its user data

Friendster sent an e-mail to users about a By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- This is the way social networks end: Not with a bang, but a "pivot."

Friendster, a pioneering social networking site launched in the pre-Facebook days of 2002, has been struggling for years to justify its continued existence. The site announced Tuesday that it will soon unveil a redesign aimed at giving Friendster a new identity -- but as part of its overhaul, it plans to erase most of the data users have stored on the site.

An e-mail sent Tuesday to registered users told them to expect "a new and improved Friendster site in the coming weeks." It also warned them that their existing account profile, photos, messages, blog posts and more will be deleted on May 31. A basic profile and friends list will be preserved for each user.

Friendster offered an exporter app on its site to let users download their content or port it to third party sites like Flickr or Multiply. Friendster didn't go in details about its new identity, but it appears to be positioning itself as a casual gaming destination.

The site collected nearly $50 million from investors over the years, but technical problems and a general failure to keep up with the times doomed it to also-ran status. Friendster's traffic and active-user count have almost flatlined. Its current owner, Malaysia Internet company MOL Global, bought the site in late 2009 for rumored $26 million price tag.

Unless Friendster is able to pull off a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes, it will be yet another casualty of the Facebook empire, which has nearly stomped out other competitors like MySpace on its path to total Internet domination. Games and other apps have exploded on the platform, giving birth to companies like FarmVille maker Zynga -- and, often, netting Facebook a share of their profits.

In an ironic twist, Facebook currently owns the patents on many social-networking features Friendster helped popularize. Facebook quietly purchased Friendster's patent portfolio from MOL last year, giving it the intellectual-property rights to inventions like connecting users within social networks, linking relationship information with outside databases, and compelling users to upload and share their own content.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,982.59 22.02 0.13%
Nasdaq 4,444.91 -4.65 -0.10%
S&P 500 1,978.91 0.57 0.03%
Treasuries 2.49 0.02 0.89%
Data as of 6:58pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 99.02 1.35 1.38%
Facebook Inc 74.92 -0.27 -0.36%
Bank of America Corp... 15.50 -0.09 -0.58%
Dollar Tree Inc 54.87 0.65 1.20%
Family Dollar Stores... 75.74 15.08 24.86%
Data as of 4:03pm ET

Sections

Herbalife shares tumble after the maker of nutritional supplements reports earnings that fall short of analysts' estimates. More

New annual report from U.S. government shows the long-term prognosis for Medicare has improved thanks to slower health spending, while the outlook for Social Security remains unchanged. More

Online dating site OkCupid found its users were more likely to have conversations when it told them they were more compatible than in reality. More

Actor-founded This Bar Saves Lives had Hollywood connections, but learned Start-Up 101 the hard way. More

Steve Mason, a pastor from California, inherited more than $100,000 in student loan debt when his 27-year-old daughter died suddenly in 2009. With interest and late penalties, the debt has since ballooned to $200,000. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.