Friendster, a social networking site, recently raised USD 1 million from a group of high-profile investors. It has been described as having eBay-like characteristics in connecting people. Writes A Washington Post:

In the Friendster world, users fill out profiles with their relationship status and list their interests. Then they get their friends to write testimonials about them. You rack up friends by sending e-mails inviting your friends to join Friendster. You and your friends can invite as many friends as you want. But you’re going to be able to browse the network only to four degrees removed from you. Any more than that, according to its founder Jonathan Abrams, and your world gets too big, defeating the purpose.

Once connected, Abrams hopes that people will search the profiles in their groups and use them to seek dates, professional opportunities and friends in what is theoretically a safer and more manageable world than the wide-open Web.

Abrams, a software engineer who worked at Netscape before striking out on his own, said he created Friendster to help his own friends, who didn’t feel comfortable meeting people the old-fashioned way, through online classified ads.

2003 seems to shaping up as the “social software and networking” year!

Videogames: Next Big Thing

“Music? Sales down. Hollywood? Hit or miss. Tech? Flat.” So, what are the options? Writes Fortune:

Games are becoming culturally pervasive, stealing time and dollars from other consumer entertainment options like movies, television, and, ahem, magazines. On average an American will spend 75 hours this year playing videogames, more than double the amount of time spent gaming in 1997 and eclipsing that of DVD or tape rentals today, according to market research firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson. Of the other forms of entertainment, only Internet usage is expected to grow faster than videogamesa fact that the videogame makers plan to use to their advantage.

And with time comes money. Though the global videogame market was just $28 billion in 2002, some people think it’s on track to rival the movie, music, or television industries, perhaps by the end of this decade. Music sales have been falling in recent years, the moviegoing experience hasn’t changed that much since Gone With the Wind, and network TV is on the skids. The games business has been racking up double-digit growth rates for the past decade, even through the recent tech slump.

Electronic Arts wants to become the “biggest and best entertainment company in the world”, according to its CEO Lawrence Probst III. Adds Fortune: “Its stock recently hit an all-time high of $90, making the $13.2-billion-market-cap company the world’s fourth-largest software maker, behind Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.”