Roundup: Smaller social networks growing, Stage6, Sandvine and more

1. Niche social networks grow, market leaders level off
2. Startup employees headed to big companies?
3. Stage6 had a lot of would-be investors, still has at least one
4. Sprint’s fate unclear
5. Sandvine, a company that helped Comcast block BitTorrent traffic, facing trouble
6. Chatterous: Message all of your friends at once

myyearbook030708.pngNiche social networks grow, market leaders level off — Web metrics service Compete reports that leading social networks MySpace and Facebook saw traffic plateau in the US between January and February, with smaller sites growing fast. One must be cautious about interpreting monthly numbers — large networks have seen seasonal dips in the past, and obviously no social network can grow forever (our coverage). Regardless, the largest, fast-growing social network is high school social network MyYearbook, which has grown 284 percent since February of last year, to more than 20 million visits this past month.

A host of Silicon Valley companies also have reason to be happy. Business network LinkedIn grew 729 percent to more than 11 million visits. White-label social network provider Ning, which we’ve previously questioned the potential of, is doing well for itself, having grown 4,803 percent to nearly four million visits. Likewise, messaging service Twitter, which generally keeps a tight lid on its internal numbers, grew 4,368 percent to more than four million visits.

But the fastest-growing site of them all is Fubar, an online bar and happy hour — and not a dating site, as its founders made clear to us last year (see comments). It grew to 3,272,217 percent to more than 6.5 million visits last month. Cheers!

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Startup employees headed to big companies? — The Wall Street Journal puts together some evidence — and more speculation — that there’s “a new flight to safety [at big companies] among tech-industry workers as the economy struggles.”

stage6030708.pngStage6 had a lot of would-be investors, still has at least one — The aftershocks of DivX’s decision to close popular online video site Stage6 are continuing. Today, Greg Sandoval reports that MySpace cofounder-turned-investor Brad Greenspan still has an offer on the table, even though Stage6’s core team has quit and the site has all but shut down. We’ve also spoken with a number of investors who said they would have been interested in funding Stage6 if it was spun out — as was DivX’s original plan. As of today, the site’s front page features a final message about the closure in a rather bizarre-looking format. The site has otherwise been wiped clean, except for a message at the bottom of the homepage (pictured) encouraging Stage6 users to go to Veoh, another online video site.

Sprint’s fate unclear — A host of rumors are circling the company. One is that T-Mobile is looking to buy it. Another is that Nextel will be spun off. More here.

Sandvine, a company that helped Comcast block BitTorrent traffic, facing trouble — Last year, Comcast tried to selectively slow down sites and services that use a lot of bandwidth, in order to prevent peer-to-peer file-sharing. It used network management software provided by Sandvine. Comcast’s actions got it in trouble with the FCC (our coverage). Now, not surprisingly, the market for Sandvine’s software is withering, TorrentFreak reports.

Chatterous: Message all of your friends at onceChatterous lets you send a single message to friends across SMS, IM and email. Mashable has the details on this Y Combinator-backed company.


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