Web 2.0 Around the World
From Aussie blog mining to Finnish friend finding, here's where to locate the planet's most innovative new sites.
By Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0 Magazine editor-at-large

(Business 2.0) -- IDEA NO. 29 Online businesses can easily--and cheaply--target international markets from anywhere.

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The term "Web 2.0" is used so widely these days, you'd think it was taking over the globe. And you'd be right. The catchall phrase--used to describe websites that thrive on what their users make of them--is no longer limited to the United States. As Web 2.0 success stories like Flickr and Del.icio.us prove, this kind of technology is dirt-cheap to implement and borrows data freely available from other websites. A guy in his bedroom in Chile can come up with a novel way to navigate global classified ads--and, in fact, one has. (See TheAdCloud, page 106.)

A lot of these global entrepreneurs are simply copying the biggest ideas in America's Web 2.0 canon. For every Digg.com, the popular U.S. site that lets readers nominate and vote on the most important news stories, there's a Yigg.de (the German version of the same). But they can also surprise you by taking a familiar idea to the next level. South Africa's Muti, for example, not only employs the Digg model but also shows its users where the stories are coming from on a map of the world.

Speaking of cartography, flip through the following pages to get a global view of our picks for the most influential or innovative Web 2.0 sites developed abroad. We've divided them into six categories: social networks (like MySpace), social media (user-generated content like Flickr), webware (applications that work within your browser), aggregators (collections of content from all over, My Yahoo style), mashups (such as sites that add features to Google Maps), and Internet TV (like YouTube). Many fit into more than one category.

And all, except Bokee and Toodou, are available in English, which goes to show how easily an online business anywhere in the world can go after the U.S. market. So join us as we go around the world in 23 clicks.

Dabble DB VANCOUVER, CANADA Put spreadsheet and database software inside your browser, Dabble shows, and it becomes much more powerful than if it's sitting on your desktop. You get to share it with groups, search and filter the content any way you like, and subscribe to RSS updates. Use it to organize your next conference or manage your next project and you're unlikely to go back to a regular software spreadsheet. The cost varies from $10 a month for a single user to $150 a month for a corporation. dabbledb.com " Webware

TheAdCloud ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE The brainchild of a single Chilean programmer, Roberto Alamos Moreno, TheAdCloud offers a simple tag-based interface for classifieds from around the world. You post your ad for free and can add whatever tags you wish. You can find ads via the site's tags, too, which makes for fast and intuitive searching. Launched less than a year ago, TheAdCloud already features ads in cities from Baltimore to Segovia. theadcloud.com " Aggregator

Spurl REYKJAVIK, ICELAND Spurl, the biggest Web 2.0 business to come out of the world's most connected country, is a bookmarking service modeled on Del.icio.us and a search engine based on that database of shared bookmarks. Pages saved by Spurl users are deemed more relevant than pages that are merely linked to. The more users who save the same page, the higher it goes in the results. The company also sells customized corporate search. spurl.net " Social media

MyHeritage BNEI ATAROT, ISRAEL Got pictures of some long-lost relative whose face you can't put a name to? The MyHeritage site mixes the ever-growing field of genealogy with face-recognition software. Upload photos of your forebears and MyHeritage will recognize those faces and notify you whenever anyone uploads more--even if the person is 5 years old in the first photo and 50 in the second. Another draw for customers: The site tells you which celebrity you most resemble. myheritage.com " Webware " Social media

Metacafe TEL AVIV, ISRAEL Serving up nearly 15 million streaming videos a day, Metacafe is one of the largest video-sharing sites in the world. Anyone can upload mini-movies and rate them, just as with YouTube. Metacafe's advantage over its U.S. rival: a player that organizes and screens your videos offline. metacafe.com " Internet TV

Zoho Writer CHENNAI, INDIA Like Writely.com, a service recently purchased by Google, Zoho is going head-to-head with Microsoft Word by building word processing into your browser. Zoho Writer lets you export and import Word documents from your PC or create new ones online and share them with anyone. Zoho also offers Zoho Sheet, an online spreadsheet, and Zoho Planner, a to-do list that can be shared by groups. zohowriter.com " Webware

Muti DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA Taking its cue from Digg, Muti focuses on news from South Africa and lets users vote the best stories to the top of the page. But it also boasts the News Map (muti.co.za/static/newsmap.html), which gives you news from any region in the world with a single click. muti.co.za " Social media " Aggregator

Bokee BEIJING, CHINA There are more than 600 blog-publishing sites in China--but Bokee, formerly BlogChina, is at the head of the pack with more than 2 million visitors. Founder Fang Xingdong believes the Chinese consumer market to be so lucrative that he can break even--and make it to 10 million users--by the end of the year. bokee.com " Social media

Douban BEIJING, CHINA Douban gives Chinese consumers the ability to write and peruse one another's music and book reviews. The site has 200,000 users, and its founder, Bo Yang, has become a celebrity in China. He launched an English version in beta last year and partnered with Amazon.com to sell the books and CDs. douban.com " Social media

Cyworld SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA The largest social network in Asia, Cyworld distinguishes itself with a virtual economy that accounts for a majority of its revenue--$300,000 a day. Korean teens and 20-somethings create homepages and 3-D "mini-rooms" that they can furnish with purchased virtual items. (See "Cyworld Attacks," page 84.) cyworld.nate.com " Social network

Toodou SHANGHAI, CHINA In Chinese, "toodou" means "potato"--as in couch potato. It offers three-second video ads that its network of video podcasters can insert in their videos. Resulting revenue is split with Toodou. Founder Gary Wang started the site with $125,000 of his own money. Now it's one of the leading podcasting sites in China, with 125,000 users and $8.5 million in second-round financing. toodou.com " Social media " Internet TV

Gnoos MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA A search engine focusing on Australian blogs and media, Gnoos lets users tag results and vote on them. The best feature: Each result can be commented on or expanded to read the full post without leaving the Gnoos site. gnoos.com.au " Aggregator

Nooked SLIGO, IRELAND Think there's nothing new in marketing? Nooked gets your message out as an RSS feed to subscribers who actually want it--such as customers looking for good deals on hotel rooms or industry analysts looking to stay up to date. Nooked makes creating feeds a snap and offers details on who's subscribing to them. Unlike with regular RSS feeds, each individual user's response to the feed can be tracked. The basic service is free; a premium version costs $99 a month. nooked.com " Aggregator

Last.fm LONDON, ENGLAND The last thing music lovers need is another subscription service or music player. That's why Last.fm offers a plug-in that piggybacks on players like iTunes and Winamp, quietly noting every song users play on their computers. The site keeps track of what's at the top of their charts, finds users with similar tastes, generates recommendations, and can create streaming radio stations based on the results. Because Last.fm gives all artists an equal chance to be heard, it's a big hit with hundreds of smaller music labels. last.fm " Social media

OpenBC HAMBURG, GERMANY The hottest business-networking site in Europe, OpenBC has attracted more than a million sales reps, executives, and job seekers. Think of it as MySpace meets Monster.com: Users can manage their contacts, recruit new hires, research jobs, and create discussion groups. More important for the European market, OpenBC translates its content into 16 languages for effective cross-border networking. openbc.com " Social network

Habbo Hotel HELSINKI, FINLAND This virtual hotel is a place where kids can choose avatars, hang out, play games, and decorate their virtual rooms. They have to buy virtual coins to pay for furniture, pets, and gifts for friends. It's become so popular that country-specific Habbo Hotel sites are now available for 18 nations, including Brazil, Germany, and the United States. habbohotel.com " Social network

Quintura MOSCOW, RUSSIA In the increasingly crowded search space, Quintura's free downloadable software is winning praise for its commonsense user-centric approach. Type in a search for "Jaguar" and it'll offer up "car" and "cat." It then automatically reorders results based on which you choose. You can also save your searches and come back to them later. quintura.com " Aggregator

AllPeers PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC The peer-to-peer service BitTorrent is a great way to share large files like movies, but actually using it requires some tech knowledge. So AllPeers has built a tool that plugs into the Firefox browser and added a buddy list. The upshot is that you can see which of your friends are online and ready to share content, and get to it with a single click. By encouraging users to stick to personal files, AllPeers hopes to avoid charges of assisting copyright infringement. allpeers.com " Mashup " Webware

Feeds 2.0 ATHENS, GREECE Designed by Greek computer scientists with expertise in neural networks, this personalized RSS reader learns from your Web behavior (such as where you click or how far down a page you scroll) and suggests new content you might like. You help it by marking pages you find interesting. Feeds 2.0 gets its social smarts from the combined feedback of all users. feeds2.com " Aggregator

Plazes BERLIN, GERMANY One of the best sites to add a layer of functionality to Google Maps, Plazes detects where you are in the world and lists other visitors to the site who have been detected in your city. Users can create profiles, upload Flickr photos to attach to any location on the map, and discover new restaurants or Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as meet new people in their vicinity. beta.plazes.com " Mashup

CoComment BERN, SWITZERLAND The lazy blogger's best friend, CoComment keeps track of all the comments you've left on other blogs and stores them in one place--from which you can publish them on your own blog. The site's aim: to turn the blogosphere into a true global conversation. cocomment.com " Social media

Wikio PARIS, FRANCE French entrepreneur Perre Chappaz sold his last startup, Kelkoo, to Yahoo for $500 million. Wikio, still in beta, is his encore. It collects news and blog stories in real time (hundreds of thousands of them a day), lets readers add tags and vote on them, and automatically places them in categories. wikio.com " Aggregator

Netvibes PARIS, FRANCE Plenty of websites promise a personalized homepage. None makes it as easy to build as Netvibes. Thanks to Ajax, the programming language that allows you to interact with a webpage without reloading, Netvibes users simply drag and drop boxes containing newsfeeds, blogs, e-mail, pictures, podcasts--anything with an RSS feed. Launched earlier this year, the site already boasts around 4 million users. netvibes.com " Mashup " Aggregator


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" Internet TV Top of page

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