Monday, December 14, 2009

Friendster Buzz: Recently Bought by Malaysian Tycoon Vincent Tan

A certain Malaysian tycoon, Vincent Tan, has bought out Friendster. I first saw the news from Dexter Panganiban's blog entry on Mr. Panganiban quotes from the original press statement on Yahoo Finance:

Tan's online payment systems business will buy 100 percent of Friendster through an affiliate company, according to a joint statement Thursday.

The two companies will be combined so Tan's business empire can sell content such as games, movies, music and other products to Friendster's 115 million members, using his company's electronic payments system. Tan's businesses include retail franchises in Southeast Asia such as Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Borders, Krispy Kreme, and Wendy's.

The price for Friendster wasn't disclosed but the combined entity will have annual revenue of about $110 million.

"We are creating a unique company that will be well positioned to provide content to a huge, regional user base here in Southeast Asia," the statement said. provides a bit more detail:
California-based online social networking pioneer Friendster has accepted a buyout from MOL Global, the companies announced today, saying the site would shift into e-commerce.
The Friendster blog confirms all this and adds:

"The merger with Friendster will continue to transform the social networking industry, combining a highly intuitive and successful social media site and online marketing channel with an integrated payment platform and content network which includes games, goods, gifts, music and video. We are creating a unique company that will be well positioned to provide content to a huge, regional user base, here in Southeast Asia,” said Ganesh Kumar Bangah, president and chief executive officer of MOL.

MOL uses the leverage of a network of over 500,000 physical and virtual payment channels across 75 countries worldwide to collect payments for content and services. Its core markets are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and India. MOL has relationships with over 70 online game publishers that have a suite of over 200 online game titles. It also has partnerships with music, movie and video content owners and distributors across the region.

“Friendster and MOL are both industry pioneers and are close partners. This combination is a natural progression of our relationship and will be an industry-changing event,” said Richard Kimber, chief executive officer at Friendster. “The new combined entity gives Friendster the kind of financial backing, retail distribution, and e-commerce infrastructure that will enable us to accelerate our strategy and create a locally relevant, fun experience for our users in Asia, both on and offline."

Could this be the driver of Friendster's relaunch on "Connecting Smiles?" Will the relaunch and/or Mr. Tan's acquisition bring new life to the seemingly stagnant social network?

I have my doubts. But anything can happen nowadays. Who expected two years ago that Facebook would reach 7.0+ mio Philippine users, and become both the number one social network & number one social network in the Philippines that it is today?

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