InstaPath: Mobile Social Networks

It’s already been an interesting month and we’re just getting started with February.  Over the past three days, we saw two “smart-phone enabled media-sharing communities” receive new rounds of funding.  Both Instagr.am and Path received millions in venture capital financing to grow their respective businesses.

I’m excited to see these companies get some backing.  I’ve been thinking about social networks and their usefulness in certain contexts because, in my experience, there are certain contexts for which Facebook just doesn’t fit my life, which means that there is an opportunity to fill a need.

I was speaking to a colleague yesterday about path and Instagr.am.  He was asking “where is this all going to shake out?  Where is the revenue on the other side and what happens when Facebook decides to get into this space?”.

I believe that if Flickr and LinkedIn can coexist with Facebook, then it follows that smaller networks built around specific experiences can thrive in the next wave of  social networks.  Facebook is not the place for my professional profile, it’s the place where I’m going to get information on a lot of friends, many of whom I am only marginally connected to.  My Facebook feed is primarily filled with people that I went to school with.  LinkedIn is the place for my professional network (the people that I’ve worked with), and Twitter is the place where I get the news and content that I want from news sources, celebrities, venture capitalists and investors.  I don’t want to involve my Facebook network in everything I do.

I think the disconnect that a lot of people have around this trend is that they fail to realize that streams and networks are going to replace a lot of the content curating that we used to pay for (like magazines and traditional television programming),  so people’s initial reaction to a new network is is “Another social network? We don’t need another social network!”.

I kind of disagree.

That’s why services like Path and Instagr.am exist; they are looking to create smaller networks of people who share certain interests.  These companies are developing their networks on mobile devices and they are starting to succeed.  I’m not making bets on any particular player, but I think this is going to be a growing sector and I’m looking forward to seeing new networks emerge on my iPhone and Android  devices in the near future.

If you want to learn more about the stories behind Path and Instagr.am,  here’s some more recent info:

  • Kevin Systrom talks about launching the product with Chris Dixon in this post on Techcrunch (worth checking out).
  • For Path, here’s a story from Michael Arrington discussing Google’s $100 million offer of Path, and Path’s subsequent rejection of the offer.
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