Power.com: For Social Networking Power Users
Sunday, November 30, 2008; 6:59 PM
Chances are you use at least two major social networks - 49 million people, for example, visited both MySpace and Facebook in October 2008 (Comscore, worldwide). Nearly 7 million people in the UK use both Bebo and Facebook. A lot of people maintain very different friend lists on LinkedIn than MySpace or Facebook. Etc. And when you add in niche social sites like YouTube, Flickr, etc., there's even more overlap among users.
There has never been an effective way of aggregating and merging all the data and activity on these sites into a single user interface. A new venture backed Brazilian-based started called Power.com launches today, though, that aims to do just that. They're calling what they do "social inter-networking" because it allows users to view and interact with all of their social networks at once. Data is aggregated, and the sites themselves, if accessed via the Power.com site, are marked up with added features in a way that Greasemonkey users are familiar with.
The service is unknown in the U.S. today, although it's been live since August and boasts 5 million users already. Until today it supported just a few social networks, notably Orkut. Now, though, the service supports users from Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut, Hi5 and a number of niche networks like YouTube.
Here's how it works.
Log into one or more social networks on the Power.com site. Friends, messages, updates, photos and other information are either scraped from the site or obtained via the API (it varies by site), and aggregated on the Power dashboard. Users can respond/comment on this content directly from Power. And if they like, they can send messages and updates to all of their social networks at once. Or send a message to just one friend, but have it sent to all of their different social networks (and if they are a Power user, to their email, SMS, instant message, etc., per their settings).
If you visit one of the social networks through the Power site, the pages are marked up with additional functionality. Click a button to start chatting with the user over MSN chat, if they are a Power.com user.
Lastly, users can create a Power.com profile based on whatever social network they choose. Here's mine, based on Facebook (which, by the way, effectively makes my private Facebook profile public).
It's all a bit confusing, but it's fairly simple to try out. Just log in and go.
There are real benefits to the service. Users can keep track of friends on social networks they belong to but don't visit very often. Status messages can be added to all networks simultaneously. Photos and videos can be uploaded on multiple sites at once. And messaging people across multiple services is dead simple.
There are limitations to the service. You have to access the sites via Power.com. And the company is scraping content off the sites, something that may violate the terms and conditions of some or all of these services (Meebo did the same with instant messaging platforms, and was eventually embraced - but they could have just been shut down).
As I said above, the company has gathered 5 million users since August, mostly on Orkut. Power.com users who leave content on sites can choose to add a link to Power.com, making the service spread virally very quickly. Now that they've launched publicly and on the big sites, expect the service to grow even more quickly.
The company has raised $5 million in venture financing from Silicon Valley-based Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
It's also worth noting that we've covered a bunch of services that attempt to do some of the things Power.com is doing. See our posts on MyLifeBrand, Spokeo, Loopster and ProfileLinker. None of those sites were able to tap into the viral growth features that Power.com has, though. Power's decision to add a link when content is posted through their service was brilliant.