FriendlyFavor: More web 2.0 clutter, or useful social networking add-on?

Favor-organizing startup FriendlyFavor officially launched its service today. The Seattle-based company wants to help you manage favors and requests across your email and social network contacts, but it’s entering a very crowded market of social network add-ons.

The site hopes to move social networking from a simple exchange of status updates and messages to a state where users actively commit to favors and requests. To this end, it includes a “favor management tool” that organizes all the emails and messages pertaining to a particular request or favor. The interface is something like a bulletin board, in that it aggregates responses and comments from across various social networks and email contacts.

The platform also allows users to thank each other for fulfilling favors through retail gifts and charitable contributions.

It’s not a hugely innovative idea we’ve never seen before — more like a cross between Evites and social networking. But it’s certainly a product that could prove useful for a certain kind of user. “There are scores of large and growing online communities with shared areas of interest that could benefit from our platform’s capabilities, whether users are accessing the site directly or through a white-label partner,” says FriendlyFavor cofounder and Chief Strategist John Patton.”

Here’s how it works: You sign up for FriendlyFavor (yes, another social media site to sign up for), then provide your username and password from other sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GChat, FriendFeed, Ning, Brightkite, Plaxo, Yammer, Friendster, Loopt, GMail, Windows Live, etc.) to get a dashboard of all of your contacts. Choose which of your “Peeps” should receive your requests and recommendations, and then manage the responses to those requests all from the FriendlyFavor site.

On the downside, FriendlyFavor doesn’t have a way to remember groups, which is inconvenient. You can’t mark your contacts as, say, just a cool friend to grab a drink with versus a reliable person who’ll help you out when you need it. But that’s apparently a feature that’s coming soon.

Of course, it seems that where social networks go, many will follow. FriendlyFavor faces competition, one supposes, from various other forms of social site aggregators like Friendfeed and Power.com, and maybe even Bebo’s new “social inbox.” The many Evite and event management sites out there may also vie for the same audience. And there’s no forgetting the plain old-fashioned email, bulletin board, and social networking Goliaths like Google, Yahoo, and Windows Live (which just recently announced native integration with Facebook).

FriendlyFavor has received $500,000 in angel funding from investors including Microsoft, Google, and Amazon employees and is currently finalizing a new round of financing. The company plans to make money through multiple revenue streams that include platform licensing and site customization for private labels, targeted advertising, and component commissions of 5-10 percent.

In a tough market with plenty of competition and in this troubled economic climate, the company will only gain some market share by maintaining a laser sharp focus and differentiating itself clearly from other players. It’ll be interesting to see how many people favor FriendlyFavor over their favorite flavor of social network.

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