April 19, 2011

Social Media - Online Communties

investing in social media venture capital
I remember several years ago, before Social Media really became a wide spread phenomenon - I didn't recognize its importance right away. Many people I knew were using Friendster or Myspace at that time. The sensation of instantly sharing with friends or followers, ideas, web discoveries, your own personal websites, photos, shared calendars that could send invites to your groups, was pretty remarkable. I now take it for granted, but I credit those early adapters who were using it before it got big and attracted millions of users across the planet. From this back drop, I watched the emergence of Facebook. I didn't join in the early days, but I watched carefully as others did. Many had Friendster or MySpace accounts, and opened I carefully observed the emergence and evolution of Facebook. Although I was not an early adapter, I watched as my friends, family, and colleagues opened Facebook accounts. One of my buddy's makes music videos and posts them online. They usually go somewhat viral attracting up to 8,000 views a month from YouTube alone. On his MySpace page, he has over 3 million profile views, and a butt load of friends. I asked him how he did it, and his reply was an early adapter of MySpace and when it got big, many people added him as friends to their social networks, increasing his access to be viewed by the friends of the new friends. That combined with the natural occurrence of search engines as a method to search for internet sites by content type has helped him get such a large following. He was a new adapter to Facebook after I introduced it to him about a year and a half ago. He was reluctant and did not want to switch (I could hardly blame him, his profile views were in the millions over four five years). Now however, he focuses his time staying in contact with his friends and new fans on Facebook, as well as sharing his music. Although he maintains both accounts, I only see him on Facebook when we are hanging out. Social Media has grown his list as it has for many, but it has also connected people with each other who did not have that option before.

The freedom of sharing your creativity or interest with others creates online communities the same way it creates them offline. The connectedness social media brings, is exactly what makes it "social" and the ability to print and write your ideas (in most countries anyway) means media has opened its definition to include more than just large media corporations. Social Media lets the online community share and essentially become producers of media in their own right, by sharing and the possibility to reach millions. Out of this environment emerged Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and others. Companies that organized the capacity into a tangible usable medium. Angel and Venture Investing These Social Media companies continues to allow them to expand their reach and add memberships, across the world. The question is will Social Media continue to grow into the future? Some Investors are betting the answer is a definite, "YES."

Investment firm invests in Facebook
For example, recently the Investment firm, T. Rowe Price Funds, has invested in social media and related internet companies. The firm has $482 Billion in assets under management, and although it makes the $500 million they've invested in social media already, they can always invest more. Recent filings for example, shows the firm has invested $71.8 Million with Zynga - maker of games such as Farmville on Facebook - and $86.6 Million in Groupon. Here is an Article I found about the Investment Firm's Facebook Stake disclosed recenlty. T.Rowe Price's investments in Social media and related companies, is reported to be spread over more than a dozen of the firm's funds. As access to the internet continues to expand around the world, Investing in Social Media may end up being a wise investment after all. As participation on Social Media sites grow, so will the Ad revenue generated. This may very well attract even more investment dollars to the Social Media sphere, allowing them to grow and constantly enhance the social media experience. I've watched over the years, valuations of some of these companies, keep going up. Twitter and Facebook are valued at their highest ever. a few weeks ago, the NY Times reported Twitter had a valuation of $4.1 Billion.

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