Boston Globe/Star Ledge: Two takes on social networking

Fun–two articles running in local papers today with fairly different takes on the value–and potential–of social networking– Networkers Make Friends at First Site by Allan Hoffman in the (Newark) Star-Ledger, and Six Degrees Co. by Chris Gaither in The Boston Globe.
Gaither wonders if there is a business model for the booming social networking sites (don’t we all), but presents users who get their value, like “Liz Garcia” a screenwriter who uses Friendster to connect with old friends and make new contacts with friends of friends. Gaither’s take is essentially positive, with some smart analysis of enthusiasm vs. revenue potential. There’s one great bit about from David Flaschen, a managing director in the Cambridge office of Flagship Ventures, a bicoastal venture capital firm, who says that “… he has been closely watching 15 business-oriented social networking sites with thoughts of investing. West Coast venture capitalists have been much quicker than Boston-area firms to fund consumer-focused sites like Friendster, he said, because the California firms are all afraid of missing out on the successor to the last great consumer Web phenomenon: Google Inc., the search engine company that turned its rapid user growth into hefty profits. They don’t worry about profits “when they see subscription rates go from zero to a few million in a few months.”
Great point!
In his article, Hoffman, on the other hand, does that skeptical journalist, –would normal people really want to use this–? thing.
“I know Paul, who knows Rachel, who knows Lily, who knows Ted. But do I want to know Ted, and does Ted want to know me?” is the lead for his piece. He goes on at length about how this is the latest “craze,” both among VCs (true) and digerati(also true).
Hoffman’s piece is a good read because Hoffman, a long-time writer about the Internet and a smart guy (okay, he used to work for me back in the day at NJO), is probably very reflective of the wired folk out there who are a bit startled by this whole social network thing.
An interesting question for all the new networking sites is how do you reach an Allan Hoffman?
And, perhaps just as important, do you need members like him to make your businesses a success, or are there enough college kids, job seekers, free agents, and digerati to keep the new networks booming?