Wow, I Can’t Believe It!

September 19, 2007 at 2:20 pm Leave a comment

I can hardly believe this blog entry from the New York Times. It is just crazy. I mean, even nytimes.com proved that membership revenue pales in comparison to ad revenue, so I think this is just snobbery for snobbery’s sake.

The Gated Social Network

By Brad Stone
from the New York Times

“I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member,” Groucho Marx famously said. He would have loved the Web’s newest social networks.

Sites like MySpace and Facebook are designed to attract a broad base of users. A newer breed, like ModelsHotel.com and the forthcoming Diamond Lounge, are building business plans based on exclusivity and the age-old custom of keeping out the riff-raff.

The Wall Street Journal wrote about ModelsHotel.com earlier this month. The name says it all; you have to be invited by others to join and the company rejects about half of all applicants based on appearance.

Last week, I spoke to a similarly inclined entrepreneur, Arya Marafie, managing director of the London-based startup, Diamond Lounge. Mr. Marafie said his site would be even more exclusive than the four-year-old, 270,000-member, A Small World, which the Times wrote about earlier this month. A Small World has lost its intimate feel, Mr. Marafie charged. “If you look at other sites trying to be exclusive, they let every single person in and over the long term that’s a disaster. We’d rather have 100 members than 5000 of the wrong kinds of people.”

Diamond Lounge is in beta testing now and will launch more broadly in October, aimed at celebrities and the affluent. An independent committee that approves members has accepted only 5 percent of about 5000 applicants, Mr. Marafie said. The company will ultimately charge members around $60 a month (can’t they afford more?) and forgo advertising.

At the end of our conversation, I tremulously asked Mr. Marafie if I would qualify for his exclusive new online club. After reviewing my qualifications, he generously said that I probably would, depending on what I could bring to the community. When I told him I would most likely bring nothing to the community, he changed his mind and said that I would be excluded.

“We are trying not to be elitist but we recognize the way things are on the Net, there’s a need to have an element of a gated system in place,” Mr. Marafie said in conclusion. “Once you have the wrong people on these social networks, the whole thing is over.”

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Entry filed under: rants, techie crap.

Greg Shipe

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