Friendster gets a face-lift, looks for love?

The social network has long since fallen from favor in the U.S. Its redesign places its focus more squarely in Asia, where the youth market has stuck with it.

Onetime social-networking pioneer Friendster unveiled a new design on Thursday, and it's focusing on the demographic that has kept it afloat for the past few years: the Asian youth market. And according to Reuters, Friendster may also be sold to a buyer in Asia by the end of the month for at least $100 million.

Yes, Friendster still exists. The first big social network to take off, it was surpassed by the likes of MySpace and Facebook, and its popularity in much of the world quickly faded. Now, it says it has 75 million registered users (no word on how many are active), and that 90 percent of its traffic comes from the Asia-Pacific region. It started offering translated versions of the site two years ago.

New to the revamped Friendster are a suite of features designed to capitalize on the social-gaming craze: a virtual currency, an array of games, and virtual gifts.

Friendster CEO Richard Kimber confirmed to Reuters that the company was shopping itself to buyers, and that investment bank Morgan Stanley had been hired to handle the sale and that the company is working with "a shortlist" of potential suitors. It won't be the first time it's been looking to sell: CNET reported in 2005 that investment bank Montgomery & Co. had been hired for the same purpose.

Kimber, a former Googler, joined Friendster last year right around the same time that it raised $20 million in venture funding in a round led by IDG Ventures.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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