Social Network Leaders Crossover Into Mobile

The two leaders in the online social networking space, MySpace and Facebook, are emerging as the clear leaders in the mobile social space as well.

According to research carried out in Q2’08 by ABI Research, as high as 46% of the people who visited online social networks also visited mobile socnets. Of this nearly 70% visited MySpace and 67% Facebook. No other online social networks came near these figures.

What this shows is that firstly, there is a big gap between the market leaders in this space and anyone else, and secondly the hurdle for consumers to jump to specialist mobile socnets versus crossing over their online networks onto the mobile platform is very high.

I wonder how the adoption curve is trending for mobile socnets at the moment? Silicon Valley VCs have made bets on players like Bluepulse and Mig33, both of whom I’ve covered extensively. Combined with the excellent web browsing capabilities on handsets like the iPhone, is there a place for mobile only social networks?

Web 2 Downunder – Top 100 Startups

Ross Dawson’s Top 100 Web 2.0 Companies in Australia list has been released.

It is great to see that two of the top 3 were featured in the recent Metarand Top 3 Australian Social Media Companies – congrats to mig33 and RedBubble. I caught up with one of mig33’s team in downtown Burlingame this week and was blown away by their stats – growth has been huge.

Great initiative, Ross. Keep up the good work.

Entrepreneurs Are Performance Athletes

In my most recent article for the Next section of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age I profiled Steven Goh, the CEO of mig33, one of the Metarand 2008 Top 3 Australian Startups.

My opening line states that Steven is a performance athlete. I truly believe that to be a successful startup CEO you need to behave like one.

It’s all about having absolute focus, unnerving drive and the stamina to keep going day after day through some of the most trying conditions.

I’ve been involved as entrepreneur, investor, advisor and chief cook and bottle washer with many high tech startups over the past decade and have seen the true performance athletes rise to the top again and again.

I’m really interested in exploring what others do to train themselves for the startup race and what methods they use to win out.

Announcing the Metarand 2008 Top 3 Australian Social Media Startups

After extensive analysis of the Australian startup scene, we’ve chosen three companies we believe are ahead of the game in the fast growing social media space.

In aggregate, these three companies have raised over $31 million in venture funding, including from tier one Silicon Valley VC firms, and have many millions of users in over 200 countries around the world.

THE 2008 TOP 3

The Top 3 startups are mig33, BluePulse and RedBubble.

More details on each company are provided below, followed by the criteria used to determine which companies were chosen.

Location: Burlingame, California
Funding: Series A, $10M (Technology Venture Partners, Accel Ventures, Redpoint Ventures), Series B, $13.5M (Doll Capital Management + Series A investors)
CEO: Steven Goh

Mig33 is a mobile social media company. The company was founded in 2005 in Perth. They currently have 13 million users in over 200 countries (adding four million subscribers in less than eighteen months). With around 1.5 billion messages a month, mig33 sends over 45 million messages a day.
The product is an integrated mobile download application that offers mobile users cheaper VoIP calls and data rates. Users can email, send instant messages, create chat rooms, text message, have profiles and share photos.
The team includes Marty Wells, former CEO of another Australian startup, Tangler.

Location: San Mateo, California
Funding: Series A, $6M (Vantage Point Ventures)
CEO: Ben Keighran

Bluepulse is a mobile social media company. Founded in early 2006 in Sydney, the company launched its mobile social networking application in December 2006.
They currently have over 6 million users in more than 198 countries. They are facilitating 150 million messages a month and have an advertising based revenue model.
The team includes Chris Nguyen, former Director of Engineering at Google, where he was responsible for the operations of Google Apps.
The product is a free mobile social messenger service, that includes a universal in/outbox, group messaging and a newsfeed feature.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Funding: Seed, $2M (undisclosed)
Executive Chairman: Martin Hosking

RedBubble is an online marketplace for artists and art lovers, which provides community features, transactional interaction and fulfillment capabilities. The company was founded in 2006 and launched in February 2007.
Currently they have approximately 50 million page views a month, with 7,000 registered member artists and 60,000 images for sale and this is growing at 75% a month.
Co-founder Martin Hosking was a founder of LookSmart. The other co-founders are Peter Styles and Paul Vanzella.
It’s free to register and upload art, which is aimed at taking away the risk for artists. RedBubble charges a base price for images, calculated on the cost of materials to produce the artwork.

In determining which companies would make the Top 3 social media startups, we looked at three key factors:

The first determinant was how long the company has been in operation. Any longer than three years, and it is not seen as a startup anymore. In addition, the company must have started its life as an Australian company and be operating in the social media arena with a key focus on end users and not be an enterprise player.

The second determinant focused on how much traction the company has achieved. This is mainly determined by how many users a company has and how much their product is being used.
Other factors taken into account here include, what partnerships does the company have in place and how much capital it has raised and from whom – angels, strategic investors or professional VCs.

The third determinant looked at how much energy and buzz surrounds the company. How big is the market they are playing into. What is their ability to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

In determining the Top 3, we analysed over 120 startups and noted an increasing level of activity in social media in Australia.

In Metarand’s view there has never been a better time to launch a social media venture than right now. The Top 3 are testament to the fact that it is possible to attain instant global reach and that the can do, entrepreneurial sprit is alive and well in Australia.