Investors snub Friendster in patent grab

The chief executives of Friendster and two similar networking Web sites are commonly thought of as friends. All three–Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, in Mountain View, Calif.; Marc Pincus of, in San Francisco; and Jonathan Abrams, of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Friendster–invested early in Friendster, and all began their various networking sites with the understanding that the market would be big enough to let each specialize and not compete with one another directly.

Friendster was to be the purely social site where friends could introduce one another, match make and date. LinkedIn, which on Wednesday is expected to announce a Series A funding round of $4.7 million led by Sequoia Capital, would cater to professionals looking to network and hire. And was meant to integrate a classified ads model with a personal network.

Now that venture capital money and influence is raining on the start-ups, the friendly atmosphere among the three entrepreneurs is beginning to deteriorate.

As Friendster was hammering out details of its most recent cash infusion–a $13 million Series D investment led by Benchmark Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers–Pincus and Hoffman formed a limited partnership without Abrams, in order to purchase the so-called “Six Degrees” patent for $700,000. [CNET]

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