Up Top, Down Low, Too Slow . . .

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In anticipation of one of the most challenging career decisions I’ve had to make to-date, I prepared a blog entry to outline why I decided to change jobs. As many of you know, I tend to look at “employment” as a sand box; to build castles in, make new playmates, dig to discover new treasures – most importantly, as Frank Gruber has stated several times, “Have fun!” In a very opportunistic, innovative, thriving market, social networking is at the top of its game. As a ubiquitous platform, most of us use social networking for day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute resourcing. That is to say, as a virtual rolodex, to share photos and videos, to communicate with friends and family real-time, chat, share news articles, but more importantly to have a personal identity online that is customized and personalized by consumers themselves. Very few social networking companies provide a seamless, easy-to-use, basic, yet robust platform that empowers users to create their online identities as they see fit; a virtual, culturally-connected home that allows Mexicans in Mexico to share photos with their Mexican-American family and friends in the US or that enables Romanians on one side of Romania to chat and make new friends with other Romanians on the other side of the country or that brings together a whole country such as Thailand to create a new online phenomenon that is known as the “virtual pop culture movement.” In a nutshell, I want an independent, cross-cultural, “enabling” social networking platform, not one that tells me what to do, how to do it or that just does it without me knowing (especially when it comes to mass ad output).

Social networking will be a huge part of every Internet users’ virtual experience. We will notice this phenomenon as new markets emerge and popular markets continue to expand in a BIG WAY such as Mobility, OpenID, Data Portability, Internet Entertainment Networks (IEN), Comprehensive Social Graph Models, Search, Relationship Mapping, Ad and Content Network Expansion, Ecommerce, CrowdReviewing, Recommendations, and Retention of Active Users.

Since, I’m sure that right about now the suspense is killing you, I’ve decided to join hi5 for the following three ‘main’ reasons and for about a million smaller reasons – 1.) World’s fastest growing social network among the top-10 global social networks 2.) Based on the June comScore Media Metrix worldwide figures released in June, hi5 grew 79% in the first half of 2008 3.) hi5’s monthly unique visitors increased from 31.4 million in December 2007 to 56.4 million in June 2008. Also, hi5 is planning some exciting product launches this year that will make a HUGE impact and increase serious competition in the social networking space. So, if the timing is right, if your heart is in it, then you should embrace risk and pull the trigger.

I’d love your input and insights on hi5. If you are so compelled, I would be interested in getting one cool marketing idea from you on how hi5 could make a BIG splash in the US market.

Be my hi5 friend! http://www.hi5.com

Please contact me with questions at agascoigne@hi5.com





About hi5

Launched in 2003, hi5 is now one of the world’s largest social networks — ranked as a top 20 website globally and the #1 social network in 25 countries across Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. According to comScore, more than 56 million individuals every month visit hi5, which is currently available in 24 language options (with more to come). We are a privately-held company, headquartered in San Francisco, California.


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