Frolicking Venture Capitalists / Mixi


It would not surprise me to see the boys on Sandhill frolic up and down the road this week in light of the Mixi IPO. Social networks are on fire again thanks to Mixi. Thousands of young entrepreneurs can revive their dreams of becoming overnight billionaires just like Kenji Kasahara. I bet the words “Hey if he can do it, so can I.” are fogging the minds of every technology entrepreneur out there. Plus Kenji still owns 64% of Mixi! Yes I said 64%. That’s astounding in a time where most founders hold no more then 10% of their company after a few rounds of investment and stock dilution. Mixi is valued at around $1.9 billion with only 5.7 million users. Yea I’d be happy if I owned 64% of it.

Let’s list some of Mixi’s features that could possibly have led to its success.

1. Like Orkut, Mixi is invite only. That means you have to know someone in the network to join it. Unfortunately, if you are an anti-social emo kid with no friends, getting someone to send you an invitation is probably no walk in the park. But hey, who said life is easy. The invite only model seems to work well for social network sites. By nature, we want what we can’t easily get. Also, you must be 18 to join.

2. You can not be alone on Mixi or you get booted out. If the number of your friends falls to 0 for a certain period, you have to leave the community.

3. You can not have more then 1,000 friends. While most social networks encourage having as many “friends” as possible, many of which are random people, Mixi encourages you to interact with real friends.

4. Your footprint is left throughout the network as you visit profile pages of members. To a certain extent, this is a cool feature. But I am not a fan of features like this. Privacy is important to me on social networks.

5. Like MySpace groups, Mixi has communities you can join.

6. Text messaging (Mobile) capabilities allows members to stay in touch with their Mixi friends from anywhere.

7. There is a music player that allows you to add music tracks to your profile.

Seems like the second and third features are the only ones unique to Mixi. In my opinion, this only means that Mixi had no secret recipe to thank for its success. Lucky for Mixi, its competition in the Japanese social network sector was limited. For a social network, limited competition is a very good thing. I am sure we will see a lot more social networks come out of Asia. India, we are waiting…

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