Nexo bills itself as the social network for families, or small groups.
What? Not another social network! Well, the thinking of co-founder Craig Jorasch is that there’s still need for one more. There’s no site on the Web, he argues, where you can slap together a private network for a few trusted contacts – family members or others — and do it EASILY.
Nexo, of Palo Alto, launches at the Demo conference today. It has all the Web 2.0 technology you want (fully AJAXed), and lets you design your family page(s), upload videos, photos wherever you want, and integrate whatever other third-party widgets you want. If you make an update, such as an event time change, you can notify the group by email (each member can specify how often, if at all, they get notified by email. For example, they can be notified of every change separately, or just get once-a-day summary). You then click on the email go back to the site to see changes. This keeps the site part of your everyday work-flow.
When we searched for an easy group site last year for a private project, we were stumped. We chose a wiki product, but it wasn’t very easy to use for non-techies. We recently signed up at Nexo, and it was straight-forward. It is good for any small group — from families, to church groups, sports teams and hobby groups.
Soon, Nexo will incorporate a function where you can email your group an update, such as a message, or photo, and it will be reflected on the site (in other words, you never have to visit the site).
Lots of existing companies overlap with what Nexo is doing. The closest is Myfamily, of Provo, Utah, but it doesn’t provide as much flexibility in designing the look and feel of site, or let you add third party widgets. Another company is Seattle’s Cozi, which has focused narrowly on families, and has quite a few features (see demo here; Flash version recommended). Problem with Cozi is that it requires a software download, which takes it out of the “real simple” camp. It’s less about building a site than managing a family’s life. But if you’re a family and taking things seriously (and don’t mind downloading), Cozi is worth a look. It has raised $4.3 million, mostly from angels. Finally, there’s GetVendors, of Foster City, Calif., which focuses on sharing information about local services, helping a family manage a home construction project, for example. And while highly popular social networking Bebo allows you to connect with friends privately, it isn’t focused on coherent groups. Ning lets you create a site, but doesn’t offer the same workflow features for small groups. Finally, Yahoo Groups lets groups come together, but again offers little control over a site’s design (question: Does this matter? Don’t know). Nexo lets you upload photos or videos from around the Web, including from YouTube, for example. Yahoo is more rigid.
As for security, Nexo lets you give different degrees of access to members, allowing some full editing access, others limited non-editing access.
Nexo is the umpteenth social network to launch. But there are still 100 million groups in the U.S., says Jorasch and most of them are not automated at all. They’re still using email.
Nexo is free and without ads for now. Eventually, it will be advertising supported. But if people don’t want ads, they can choose to pay, Jorasch said.
It has angel backing, and has been at work for a year. Jorasch and co-founder Tom McGannon founded Octopus, a company that was backed by Redpoint among others, and took in $20 million before being sold during the Internet bust for about break-even. The two also founded Metropolis Software, which focused on software automation. That company was bought by Clarify.
(Question to readers: Should VentureBeat ban future stories on social networking companies? Is this overkill? Have you reached saturation point?)