/European social networks: Facebook with a local flavour

European social networks: Facebook with a local flavour

Business Week has a report on some European social networks (I got to it thanks to Loic Le Meur’s twitter). I am convinced that Facebook won’t need to buy them, as it will easily conquer Europe, but it’s interesting to see that they are so much based on Facebook adding a local flavour. Here they are:

Hyves (Netherlands): 7 million users (a third of the Duch population). It was launched by Raymond Spanjar, Koem Kam and Floris Rost in 2004.

Tuenti (Spain): 5 million monthly visitors (3.5 according to Nielsen). It was launched in 2007 by Zaryn Dentzel, Kenny Bentley, Felix Ruiz and Joaquín Ayuso. Bentley and Dentzel knew Facebook in their country of birth, the US. Tuenti, whose name comes from English-word “twenty” and Spanish word “tu” (you), is only accessible to people who have been invited previously. It had revenues of 600-700,000 euros in 2008 and a similar loss in 2007 (no data from 2008 yet, according to the Spanish Merchants’ Register).

Netlog (Belgium): 37 million users, mainly in Belgium, Italy, Austria, Romania and Turkey. It was founded in 2006 by Lorenz Bogaert and Toon Coppens. It is so much a copycat of Facebook that its first name was Facebox. Index Ventures invested 5 million euros in 2008.

SkyRock (France): 21 million monthly visitors. Born as a blogging platform for SkyRock, an MTV-like French radio station, it has become French main social network. It is also very important in Belgium and Switzerland, two French speaking countries. Its target is young adults aged under 25. It was bought by AXA insurance company in 2006 for 100 million euros.

StudiVZ (Germany): 9 million active users. The name is an abbreviation of Studentenverzeichnis (student’s directory, which is actually what Facebook is). It was launched at the end of 2005 by Ehssan Dariani and Dennis Bemmann, two students, who later sold it to publishing house Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (Handelsblatt and Die Zeit). It is the main social network in Germany and Austria, but its sites in other foreign countries, as Spain or France, have been unsuccessful.

Last but not least, Facebook’s international manager, Javier Olivan, started up his own social network, Nosuni, in Spain, where he was born. At the end, he chose to work for Facebook.