Social NOTworking

We have Google Envy… we have iPod envy… and we have MySpace envy. Barring Skype sales to eBay, MySpace has been the only really big ticket exit in the tech-land for a while, and its $500 million plus price tag has $-signs dancing in people’s eyes. That explains why not a day passes when we hear about a new social networking company stake its claim to be the next MySpace. (Update: Bill Gurley just emailed and reminded me that Ebay paid $634 million for, and EA paid $680 million for Jamdat, both larger than MySpace and both Benchmark companies.)
On Friday, John Cook wrote about Hyperboy, a Seattle-based start-up that is trying to do everything MySpace does and adding a liberal dose of mobile access to Hyperboy network. Brent Brookler, a three time entrepreneur having started MountainZone and Mobliss, when asked by Cook about MySpace, “I am not saying we are dissimilar. … But if we are going to compare to anyone else, we would say it is more Flickr-like — with all content types, not just photos.” Okay, just like a new hand lotion with different fragrance than Nivea! Gotcha!

Brookler, at least has some consumer Internet experience, but the news which convinced me that we were in Social Networking bubble popped on my feed reader last night, just before I went to sleep. Jeanette Symons, a life long telecom veteran who was co-founder and CTO of telecom-roll-up play, Zhone Technologies and CTO of Ascend Communications has a new start-up based in Emeryville, California, called Industrious Kid, and the first product of the company is, a safe social networking environment for kids. Industrious Kid has raised $6 million.
Telecom people doing social networks and consumer companies? I think there is a little consumer Internet insanity going on right now. People who have little or no handle on consumer are getting funded, or offering funding. Designing high-end switches and getting kids to switch from MySpace – two entirely different tasks. Anyway this insanity is understandable. WSJ has an article about start-ups getting showered by money, some getting unsolicited emails from VCs offering barrel loads of cash. The trend “absolutely harkens back to the bubble days” of 1999 and 2000, Tom Blaisdell, a general partner with DCM-Doll Capital Management, tells the WSJ. (sub.reqd) I let him have the final word on this.
PS: In case you were wondering when there will be a market top – look for a journalist quitting his job to start a social network!
Update: Tim Donovan of Industrious Kid and Brent Brookler have added their side of the story in the comments section.