Friendster has been losing ground to Facebook on its now-home turf of Southeast Asia, including key markets like the Philippines and Indonesia. But the company is looking to change things up, even as it continues hunting for a sale, as described in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article.
One of those changes will be a new focus on social gaming, according to chief executive Richard Kimber; another focus will be on local musicians. It’s not yet clear what the social gaming focus will mean, as the company currently offers a developer platform but nothing more. Perhaps the change will be along the lines of what Hi5 has done, introducing a customized gaming portal that includes its own currency, and partnerships with select game developers. Given the many companies in Asia that have built businesses in games, from China’s Tencent to Asia’s Cyworld to new Chinese-language Facebook developers, perhaps Friendster can tap into the interests of its local markets? That remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the company is not profitable, and looking to sell, according to the Chronicle article. It has found “a number of interested parties” in Asia and in the US, according to Kimber. It hopes to finalize a deal by the end of the year. ComScore’s August numbers who the site dropping from 32.6 million monthly unique visitors in August of 2008 to 12.7 million this past August. Facebook, as we’ve been covering, has been introducing its crowd-sourced translations across the region.
Also, for what it’s worth, Friendster keeps piling up patents. The latest is one described as the “Method for sharing relationship information stored in a social network database with third party databases,” as TechCrunch covered earlier this week. It’s not clear if these patents are enforceable, as they cover many generic social networking features. But still, perhaps they can help bolster Friendster’s sale price.