Founder: Jeff Bazos
Amazon.com Inc (AMZN) is a leading global Internet company and one of the most trafficked Internet retail destinations worldwide. Amazon directly sells, or acts as a platform for the sale of, a very broad range of products, including books, music, videos, consumer electronics, clothing and household products. The majority of Amazon’s sales are products sold by Amazon, with the remaining amount from third-party sellers. Through year-end 2006, Amazon had approximately 64 million active customers worldwide. In 2006, 55% of Amazon’s revenue was generated in North America and 45% was generated by its International segment. Within North America, Media was 61% of total sales, Electronics & General Merchandise (EGM) was 34% of the total, and Other revenue was 4%. Within its International segment, Media was 72% of sales and EGM was 28% of sales. Amazon has direct operations in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Amazon was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.
Amazon is an online shopping website with one of the largest product supplies online. It was one of the first companies to sell products deep into the long tail by housing them all in numerous warehouses and distributing products from many partner companies.
Since 2004 Amazon has begun rapidly expanding its web services arsenal. Products such as Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and Amazon S3 (Simple Storage System), have been large success.
Prior to these services Amazon had survived on a low margin business model that relied on enormous volume in product sales. Amazon is looking to these services to provide a healthier profit margin.
Founder: Matt Mullenweg
A former CNET employee, Matt is the cofounding developer behind the open source WordPress blogging platform and its founding company Automattic. A Houston native, Matt also serves as an adviser to Sphere and WeGame.
Founder: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak,
Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computer maker to include consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007..
Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, software, Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, iPod (offered with up to 120 GB of storage with the iPod classic or with web browsing and touch screen controls with the iPod touch), and the iPhone (now available for sale in over 80 countries).
Founder: Michael Birch
Launched in July 2005, Bebo has steadily risen to become one of the world’s most popular social networking sites. Users can create profiles on the site for free, stay connected with friends, watch videos, and listen to music. In early 2008 Bebo had over 34 million registered users and 7 billion monthly page views. Bebo’s founders have extensive experience in online social networking, having been involved in the founding and building of such companies as Birthday Alarm, Ringo, and Friendster.
Bebo is officially the largest social networking site in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand, and is the third largest social networking site in the US behind only MySpace and Facebook.
In 2006, Bebo received the Webby Award People’s Vote for the best social networking site on the web.
Bebo was acquired by AOL on March 13, 2008
Founder: Eric Xu & Robin Li
Baidu is one of the largest Chinese language search engines. Baidu’s mission is to provide the best way for people to find information online, including Chinese language web pages, news, images and multimedia files though links provided on their website. In addition to serving individual Internet search users, Baidu also provides a platform for businesses to reach potential customers online. The company’s online marketing services include auction-based P4P and tailored solutions.
China’s Most Powerful People 2009
Foudner: Anthony Batt
Buzznet Inc. is a media company focused on building the most active and engaged online communities around pop culture topics. Utilizing its sophisticated social media platform, Buzznet’s editorial team empowers millions of people with the tools to create, contribute, program, and share content around topics they are most passionate about.
Buzznet’s music community is among the largest on the Web. Users program around millions of photos, videos and blog posts every day. Its communities power the most robust, diverse and all-encompassing music experience online and include Buzznet.com, Stereogum, Absolute Punk, Idolator, Vampire Freaks, FOE and The Gauntlet.
In June ’08, Buzznet launched Celebuzz, the first social media destination dedicated to celebrity news and culture. Celebuzz brings together a top editorial team, leading bloggers, the paparazzi, celebrity experts, fans, and celebrities themselves, to present the most comprehensive and colorful spectrum of constantly updated information, opinion, and dialogue on celebrity.
Founder: Kevin Rose
Digg is a user driven social content website. Everything on Digg is user-submitted. After you submit content, other people read your submission and “Digg” what they like best. If your story receives enough Diggs, it’s promoted to the front page for other visitors to see.
Kevin Rose came up with the idea for Digg in the fall of 2004. He found programmer Owen Byrne through eLance and paid him $10/hour to develop the idea. In addition, Rose paid $99 per month for hosting and $1,200 for the Digg.com domain. In December of 2004, Kevin launched his creation to the world through a post on his blog.
In February of 2005, Paris Hilton’s cell phone was hacked. Images and phone numbers from the phone were posted online and it didn’t take long for a user to post the link on Digg. The site started to receive an enormous amount of traffic and it was then, Rose says, he saw “the power of breaking stories before anyone else.”
Digg has been a force ever since. Acquisition offers have been made, Rose was on the cover of BusinessWeek and according to Alexa, Digg is in the top 100 most trafficked sites on the internet. The success hasn’t come without its share of problems though. The site has had to face services aimed at gaming the way stories hit the front page, as well as a user revolt. Digg has however been able to get over these hurdles as it continues to be one of the social news leaders.
Founder: Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 350 million users.
Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.
The original idea for the term Facebook came from Zuckerberg’s high school (Phillips Exeter Academy). The Exeter Face Book was passed around to every student as a way for students to get to know their classmates for the following year. It was a physical paper book until Zuckerberg brought it to the internet.
With this success, Zuckerberg, Moskowitz and Hughes moved out to Palo Alto for the summer and rented a sublet. A few weeks later, Zuckerberg ran into the former cofounder of Napster, Sean Parker. Parker soon moved in to Zuckerberg’s apartment and they began working together. Parker provided the introduction to their first investor, Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and managing partner of The Founders Fund. Thiel invested $500,000 into Facebook.
With millions more users, Friendster attempted to acquire the company for $10 million in mid 2004. Facebook turned down the offer and subsequently received $12.7 million in funding from Accel Partners, at a valuation of around $100 million. Facebook continued to grow, opening up to high school students in September 2005 and adding an immensely popular photo sharing feature the next month. The next spring, Facebook received $25 million in funding from Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital, as well as previous investors Accel Partners and Peter Thiel. The pre-money valuation for this deal was about $525 million. Facebook subsequently opened up to work networks, eventually amassing over 20,000 work networks. Finally in September 2006, Facebook opened to anyone with an email address.
In the summer of 2006, Yahoo attempted to acquire the company for $1 billion dollars. Reports actually indicated that Zuckerberg made a verbal agreement to sell Facebook to Yahoo. A few days later when Yahoo’s stock price took a dive, the offer was lowered to $800 million and Zuckerberg walked away from the deal. Yahoo later offered $1 billion again, this time Zuckerberg turned Yahoo down and earned instant notoriety as the “kid” who turned down a billion. This was not the first time Zuckerberg turned down an acquisition offer; Viacom had previously unsuccessfully attempted to acquire the company for $750 million in March, 2006.
One sour note for Facebook has been the controversy with social network ConnectU. The founders of ConnectU, former classmates of Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard, allege that Zuckerberg stole their original source code for Facebook. The ordeal has gone to court, and has now been resolved.
Notwithstanding this lingering controversy, Facebook’s growth in the fall of 2007 was staggering. Over 1 million new users signed up every week, 200,000 daily, totaling over 50 million active users. Facebook received 40 billion page views a month. Long gone were the days of Facebook as a social network for college students. 11% of users are over the age of 35, and the fastest growing demographic is users over 30. Facebook has also seen huge growth internationally; 15% of the user base is in Canada. Facebook users’ passion, or addiction, to the site is unparalleled: more than half use the product every single day and users spend an average of 19 minutes a day on Facebook. Facebook is 6th most trafficked site in the US and top photo sharing site with 4.1 billion photos uploaded.
Based on these types of numbers, Microsoft invested $240 million into Facebook for 1.6 percent of the company in October 2007. This meant a valuation of over $15 billion, making Facebook the 5th most valuable US Internet company, yet with only $150 million in annual revenue. Many explained Microsoft’s decision as being solely driven by the desire to outbid Google.
Founder: Chad Hurley
YouTube was founded in 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. YouTube is the leader in online video, sharing original videos worldwide through a Web experience. YouTube allows people to easily upload and share video clips across the Internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs, and email.
Everyone can watch videos on YouTube. People can see first-hand accounts of current events, find videos about their hobbies and interests, and discover the quirky and unusual. As more people capture special moments on video, YouTube is empowering them to become the broadcasters of tomorrow.
YouTube received funding from Sequoia Capital in November 2005 and was officially launched one month later in December. Chad Hurley and Steve Chen proceeded to become the first members of the YouTube management team and currently serve as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer respectively.
In November 2006, within a year of its launch, YouTube was purchased by Google Inc. in one of the most talked-about acquisitions to date.
YouTube has struck numerous partnership deals with content providers such as CBS, BBC, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, Warner Music Group, NBA, The Sundance Channel and many more.
In March 2007, Viacom introduced its much talked about $1 billion lawsuit against Google and YouTube. In a statement explaining why they were pursuing legal action, Viacom stated that “we must turn to the courts to prevent Google and YouTube from continuing to steal value from artists and to obtain compensation for the significant damage they have caused.” The lawsuit was preceded by a takedown request from Viacom ordering YouTube to remove over 100,000 clips from its stable of networks.
In May 2007 YouTube announced a revenue-sharing arrangement called “Partners Program” to cut in some of its biggest pro-am producers on the revenue generated from their videos. Partners at launch included LisaNova and smosh.
In June 2007 YouTube launched local versions in Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. Additionally in June, Apple’s iPhone launched with a YouTube application, further extending YouTube’s penetration in the mobile market following its November 2006 partnership with Verizon’s vCast service.
Over the summer and fall of 2007 major announcements were made about advertising models for YouTube. In August, YouTube introduced “YouTube InVideo Ads”, a set of flash overlays displayed on the lower portion of videos. Advertisers are charged per impression, and the resulting revenue will be shared with the clip creator. In October, Google announced the inclusion of YouTube videos in its AdSense product. Site owners using AdSense can select videos from certain content providers, and ads will be served contextually as they relate to either the site or the video. Resulting revenue will be split between content providers, site owners, as well as Google.
In October 2007, YouTube announced a new service called “Youtube Video Identification” in order to assist copyright holders in protecting their content. With the service copyright holders upload full copies of their content to the service and complex algorithms are applied against YouTube’s library of clips to see if any match the uploaded content. Copyright holders can then either have YouTube remove the videos in question or allow YouTube to serve advertising along with the content and split the resulting revenue.
Founder: Stewart Butterfield
Former game designers Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake created Flickr, an online photo sharing network, in 2004. Flickr, which began as a photo-sharing feature of their gaming project, has since then blossomed into one of the premiere photo-sharing sites on the web. Yahoo purchased Flickr for $35 million in March of 2005. Since then Flickr continues to compete with other photo-sharing giant Photobucket.
Founder: Jonathan Abrams
Acquired byMOL Global Price$26.4M Date12/09
Founded in 2002, Friendster is one of the web’s older social networking services. Adults, 16 and up can join and connect with friends, family, school, groups, activities and interests. The site currently has over 50 million users.
Founder: Ramu Yalamanchi & Akash Garg
hi5 Networks, Inc. is a privately-held firm headquartered in San Francisco, CA. Its flagship service, hi5, was launched in 2003 and is now one of the world’s largest social networks — ranked by Alexa® as a top 20 website globally and the #1 social network in more than 25 countries across Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. hi5 is also the #1 social network for the world’s Spanish-language population. In total, over 80 million people in more than 200 nations are currently registered for hi5, which is available in 23 language options.
Founder: Jean-Luc Vaillant & Reid Hoffman & Allen Blue
With more than 45 million users representing 150 industries around the world, LinkedIn is a fast-growing professional networking site that allows members to create business contacts, search for jobs, and find potential clients. Individuals have the ability to create their own professional profile that can be viewed by others in their network, and also view the profiles of their own contacts.
Competitors to LinkedIn include sites such as www.xing.com, Doostang and Ecademy. Of note, LinkedIn won two Webby awards in 2007 for services and social networking.
Founder: Tom Anderson
Acquired byFox Interactive Media Price$580M Date7/05 TermsCash
MySpace is one of the world’s largest social networks, with about 125 million users. Originally inspired by Friendster, MySpace quickly grew to become the world’s largest social network, before being overtaken by Facebook. User pages are highly customizable and support integration with widgets such as Slide or YouTube. MySpace provides users with a way to connect around content and culture.
MySpace was started as a side project of the internet marketing company eUniverse (now called Intermix Media) in August 2003. Brad Greenspan, then founder and CEO of eUniverse oversaw the project, which was also led by Chris DeWolfe (later CEO), Josh Berman, and Tom Anderson (soon to be President). It officially launched in January 2004.
By February 2004, MySpace reached 1 million registered users. By November 2004, that number had reached 5 million. In July, 2005 News Corporation bought eUniverse (renaming it Intermix Media) for $580 M, of which approximately $327 M was the valuation of MySpace. At this time, the site had 20 million registered users. In mid 2007, News Corporation contemplated selling 25% of MySpace stock to Yahoo! in a deal that would have valued the site at $12 B, though this never went through.
After being acquired, MySpace’s revenues grew rapidly, as News Corporation pursued lucrative advertising deals. In August 2006, Google made a $900 M agreement to provide search and advertising directly on the MySpace site, which is set to expire in June 2010.
In mid 2008, MySpace participated in a major site redesign. Throughout its history, critics have often cited the chaotic and disorganized interface as a severe drawback to usability of the site. This redesign made the main page more streamlined and clean.
In late 2006, Universal Music Group sued MySpace for millions in damages from copyright infringement. This suit was settled in mid 2008 by the launch of MySpace Music, a site where users can listen to streaming songs from all sorts of artists. To supplement this venture, MySpace acquired iLike in mid 2009. MySpace had previously also launched a record label in 2005 and musicians such as Lily Allen and Sean Kingston were first discovered through MySpace.
In mid 2007, MySpace acquired PhotoBucket for $250 M in cash, plus an additional $50 M earn-out. By late 2009, News Corporation sold a 2/3 stake in Photobucket to a group of investors valuing the company at $60 M, over 80% less than the acquisition price.
Since 2008, user growth has stagnated and page views and other metrics have fallen. In April 2009, longtime CEO and co-founder Chris DeWolfe was replaced by Owen Van Natta, in a publicized firing. President and head of product, Tom Anderson, was kept on, but in a different position. Two months following this, MySpace announced it was laying off 30% of its workforce amounting to 420 people.
Founder: Gina Bianchini & Marc Andreessen
Ning is the social platform for the world’s interests and passions online. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Ning offers an easy-to-use service that allows people to join and create Ning Networks. With more than 1.6 million Ning Networks created and 36 million registered users, millions of people every day are coming together across Ning to explore and express their interests, discover new passions, and meet new people around shared pursuits. Founders Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini created the company (formerly known as 24 Hour Laundry / 24H Laundry) in October 2004.
Their business model is based on delivering Google ads (their own ad platform in development) as well as selling premium services to individual Ning Networks, such as the ability to remove Ning’s ads and run their own, and a way to use a custom domain name.
View a chart that TechCrunch compiled in Summer 2007 that compares this company’s social networking product to others.
Founder: Greg Tseng & Johann Schleier-Smith (pic)
When Tagged launched in 2004 as a teen-only social network, security was a top priority. In October 2006 the site made a drastic change and went from being under-18 only, to allowing users of any age to join. This change has helped user registration skyrocket. In fact, Tagged was adding more users per day than MySpace in May of 2007. In addition to all of the new users, Tagged has still been able to bill itself as safe environment for teens by keeping security in place for the under-18 crowd.
Another reason for the large number of registrations is Tagged’s aggressiveness with signing up new users. At registration users are strongly encouraged to invite their entire address book as friends. It’s a highly viral, albeit controversial, way to quickly add lots of new users.
The site, which is profitable, has many competitors in the second tier of social networks including Friendster, Bebo, Piczo and Orkut.
Founder: David Karp
Tumblr is a re-envisioning of tumblelogging, a subset of blogging that uses quick, mixed-media posts. The service hopes to do for the tumblelog what services like LiveJournal and Blogger did for the blog. The difference is that its extreme simplicity will make luring users a far easier task than acquiring users for traditional weblogging. Anytime a user sees something interesting online, they can click a quick “Share on Tumblr” bookmarklet that then tumbles the snippet directly. The result is varied string of media ranging links and text to pictures and videos that takes very little time and effort to maintain.
There is little to no learning curve involved in using tumblr. Features are intuitive and quick to establish. Users simply sign up and begin posting in a minute.
Founder: Evan Williams & Jack Dorsey & Biz Stone
Twitter, founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006 (launched publicly in July 2006), is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to post their latest updates. An update is limited by 140 characters and can be posted through three methods: web form, text message, or instant message. The company has been busy adding features to the product like Gmail import and search. They recently launched a new site section called “Explore” for external and third party tools that interact with Twitter and a new visualization tool called Twitter Blocks.
The service was started by Obvious Corp, who also started Odeo.
In April 2008 Twitter launched Twitter Japan in partnership with Digital Garage.
Founder: Dan Huddle & John Hiller & Marc Ginsburg
Xanga is a free service which allows users to create their own video, audio and webblog. The site is similar to many popular social networking sites such as MySpace, Friendster and Bebo. The site is largely popular with teenagers and is successful in Asia.
Founder: Jeffrey Ng (pic)
Zorpia aims to bring people together from all over the world and allow them to share their ideas and interests. Their primary features include a photo album, online journal, social networking, customized homepage, comment system, and discussion forum.
Founder: Joshua Schachter
Acquired by Yahoo! Date 12/05 Terms Cash
Delicious is a social bookmarking website – the primary use of Delicious is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. On Delicious, you can use tags to organize and remember your bookmarks, which is a much more flexible system than folders.
You can also use del.icio.us to see the interesting links that your friends and other people bookmark, and share links with them in return. You can even browse and search Delicious to discover the cool and useful bookmarks that everyone else has saved – which is made easy with tags.
Delicious was acquired by Yahoo on December 9, 2005. No formal acquisition price was disclosed, though it has been speculated at $10 to $15 million. Early seed round investors include Marc Andreessen, Tim O’Reilly, Esther Dyson, Josh Kopelman, Bob Young, Seth Goldstein and Howard Morgan.
In September 2007 Delicious showed an upcoming version 2 to the public, along with the announcement of a complete re-write of the code base.
Founder: Craig Newmark
Craigslist is a supremely popular listings site. Craigslist was founded by Craig Newmark in March, 1995, as an email list site for San Francisco and Bay Area events. In June 2000, it added its second city, Boston, and then expanded to the major metropolitan cities in August 2000. As of February 2008, Craiglist now covers 450 in 50 US States and 50 Countries.
Craiglist.org – note the .org domain suffix – is interesting in that it serves no ads and stresses a non-corporate culture. It has only 25 employees, all based in San Francisco, and makes money off job ads in 10 cities, as well as brokered apartment listings in NYC.
In April 2008 Ebay sued Craigslist over stock dilution issues.