Should Yahoo! Copy Facebook?

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GigaOM Yahoo & Facebook: Deal or No Deal? Robert Young writing over at GigaOm says that Yahoo! should build a Facebook clone and target the 14-22 student demographic.

Facebook is probably the site that I’m most excited about on the entire internet right now, well, after Zooomr I mean of course.

Facebook has integrated the very stickiest social networking tools and features and really has a good chunk of the human interaction dynamic down. It was smart for them to open their network up to the non high school / college world and their tools represent the stickiest of all the social networks today.

The problem though is less of a feature one at this point for both Yahoo! and Facebook as much as it is a scale problem. My own feeling (note, just my feeling, not based on anything in particular), is that Yahoo! is having trouble scaling their internal social networks already.

One of the reasons I would speculate that the current existing social properties at Yahoo! have not been integrated into Yahoo! web search is that the systems as built today can’t handle the load.

I think Facebook, as massive as it is and as quickly as it is growing, also very likely could be having issues with their own load.

I think the problems facing the very largest social networks right now very well may be more matters of scale than anything. Staying up when you have that much traffic and are doing really incredible and highly processing and storage intensive things is no easy task. And the bigger you get the more important staying up and online become.

The advantage for Yahoo! in buidling their own Facebook would be that they could build something from the ground up that could scale vs. buying something with a community already there but with it’s own set of new scale problems and issues. They could plan with foresight and hindsight of what has not scaled well with their other social networks from the beginning.

But… building a social network with the amazing features of Facebook would also not be easy and Yahoo! very well may not have the ambition or understanding of how to do it exactly either.



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Thomas Hawk is a San Francisco based photographer and technology writer.
He publishes the web site Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection and is also
the Evangelist and CEO of the photo sharing site Zooomr.

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