Socializr, a new San Francisco-based company that wants to help you plan events online, opens to the public today.
It is owned by Jonathan Abrams, the founder of the early social networking site, Friendster. When Friendster emerged four years ago, it was cutting-edge — creating enormous buzz in what is now a booming industry. Friendster badly fumbled its opportunity, though, losing its lead to MySpace and Facebook.
Now Abrams wants to make a comeback. We’ve just tested Socializr, and it works smoothly. It doesn’t try to do too much, like many new competitors. It does have a host of modern features you’d want, like the ability to upload video, photos and other widgets straight into the invitation you send out to friends.
This time, Abrams faces even more of a challenge than he did at Friendster: A host of competitors, from industry leader Evite, to small start-ups such as Renkoo, MingleNow, Skobee, and more recently Mypunchbowl and related site, SuggestLocal, to name only a few.
Many of these new sites, though, have the problem of being too complex.
Here’s how Socializr works: When you sign up, its gives you a number of options. It asks you to supply all your email addresses (you don’t have to give them) so it can search for other information you may have on other sites (Friendster, MySpace, Flickr, etc) to bring into your Socializr profile. It lets you import your address books from other places, such as Yahoo and Gmail, to simplify the process of sending invitations to your friends. It also gives you your own Web site URL, in the form of www.socializr.com/user/name, where you can keep all of your events and let other people see them, if you want.
To send out a new invite, it handholds your through the process. See below for a sample template. To help you choose a location, it has a convenient “search” feature: Type in your zip code, and “chinese,” into the search bar, for example, and Socializr provides you all of the Chinese restaurants in that zip-code. You select one of them, and Socializr inserts the location into the invite. You can customize your invite, to include photos, videos from around the Web (it lets you use VideoEgg to do this), and a host of other widgets.
We first covered Socializr in September here, however the site was still closed to the public.
Socializr has raised $770,000, according to WSJ. The money comes from Rembrandt Venture Partners, and a number of other Silicon Valley players, including Frank Caufield, Jeff Clavier, Colin Evans, Josh Felser, Auren Hoffman, Kent Lindstrom, Richard Ling, Alex Lloyd, Melissa Lloyd, Andrew Lowenstein, Michael Tanne, Jeremy Wenokur, and some others. (Felser, Lindstrom, and Lowenstein were original investors in Friendster.)
It is a three-person team, and has been in testing mode since Sept 2006.
In January, Abrams made some clarifications to our original piece on Socializr. He said he’d wanted Friendster to offer an event invitation feature, but that it had never built one. He’d only raised one round of funding, he added.
The site will rely for now on text advertisements from Google, reports the WSJ.