This Fall: Friendster 13-Part Miniseries, The Early Days

OK, not really. But there’s a bit of an exposé over at the New York Times with some behind the scenes action on Frienster’s infamous fall from grace.

It’s funny …. back in day, during the routine of checking into Friendster and giving up in frustration when the home page wouldn’t even load, I always figured I was trying to log into some uppity teenager’s Windows NT Server box. Some kid who’s side project hit it big and couldn’t keep up with being Slashdotted, BoingBoing’ed, Time Magazine’d, the works. Only recently did I find out that Frienster was (and still is) a real company, with a real CEO and real engineers and real millions of dollars in venture funding. $30 million dollars and can’t make a database serve up some web pages? It boggles the mind. I mean really, nerdy college dropouts with some basic PHP skillz seem to be routinely pulling off landslide web plays.

Assistant professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski at the Harvard Business School uses Frienster as a case study:

Friendster’s fate is “a real puzzle,” Professor Piskorski said. “This was a company that had the talent and had the connections.” he said. “They had this great idea that people really took to.”

There is no single reason that explains Friendster’s failures, Professor Piskorski added, which is what makes it academic fodder. “It’s a power story,” he said. “It’s a status story. It’s an ego story.” But largely, he said, Friendster is a “very Silicon Valley story that tells us a lot about how the Valley operates.”

I know that in my days of misguided youth I used to say, famously, “I wouldn’t wipe my ass with the New York Times” … but now I’m over 30, and I think this article, at least, is worth reading.

Link to … just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful slip …