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friendster.gifThings have been shaky at this Mountain View social networking company from the very beginning.

So we’re not surprised at the latest. Jeremy Zawodny at Yahoo heard the rumors first, and then Business Week’s Rob Hoff confirms them:

Scott Sassa is out as CEO of the social networking company as of June 13, after less than a year on the job. He’ll stay on for the summer to help the transition to the new CEO, Taek Kwon, currently executive VP of product and technology at Interactive Corp.’s Citysearch.com. Also, Friendster laid off five people from its staff of 55.

What’s up? The site’s spokeswoman, Carleen LeVasseur, said Sassa’s a great businessman who managed to get Friendster profitable. But the company decided that now the focus needs to be on developing new technology to create a better experience, and that’s Kwon’s expertise.

And here’s venture capitalist Bill Burnham’s take on how MySpace and Yahoo are stealing the show.

UPDATE: Konstantin Guericke, co-founder at LinkedIn, has some good points on this. It’s early days for Yahoo 360, and we should have mentioned that. More importantly, TheFaceBook (see here) “has some strong numbers and is at this point the main competition for MySpace. I think Friendster is still the company to beat in the 20-something demographic in certain foreign markets: Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.” Orkut, meanwhile, seems to be taking over Brazil. Konstantin’s trick is to do regular searches on the most common men�s and women�s names to get a handle for how many people each site is signing up.


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