[Posted on February 26, 2008 - 12:01 AM]
FriendFeed Inc. on Tuesday is launching publicly after a private beta test and announcing a $5 million Series A round. Like dozens of other companies, FriendFeed is trying to leverage the popularity of social networking. But the Silicon Valley startup has one thing the others don't: a deep bench of players seasoned by years of creating some of Google Inc.'s most successful applications, including Gmail and Google Maps.
The idea behind FriendFeed is to help users organize material from multiple social networks, including Facebook, Digg, del.icio.us, Flickr, Last.fm, Twitter and Tumblr. The company's founding foursome -- Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Paul Buchheit and Sanjeev Singh -- are all former developers from Google. The Series A is led by Buchheit, who is famous for coining the search engine giant's "Don't be evil" motto, and Singh. Taylor and Norris came up with the idea for FriendFeed while entrepreneurs in residence at Benchmark Capital, which is also participating. (In the photo, from left to right are Norris, Singh, Taylor, and Buchheit.)
"The FriendFeed team's talent and passion for creating great user experiences distinguishes them among the very best entrepreneurs we have backed at Benchmark," says the VC firm's general partner Peter Fenton.
The feeling is mutual. "When I left Google at the end of June, I had a lot of product development experience," Taylor tells Tech Confidential, "but I had less experience with early-stage financing and the business complexities that go along with starting a business." While at Benchmark, he witnessed "a variety of companies getting exposure to similar problems."
For Buchheit, investing in other startups as an angel helped round out his post-Google education. "Advising startups broadens your perspective," he says. Since leaving Google in 2006, Buchheit has invested in approximately 20 startups, including a couple that have already had exits: Zenter Inc., the slide-making program developer that was acquired by Google in June; and Parakey Inc., founded by the creators of the Firefox browser, sold to Facebook in July.
Rather than add to the clutter of social networking sites, FriendFeed is designed to help people organize Web pages, photos, videos and music through the act of sharing with friends and family. "How do you sift through 100,000 YouTube videos to find the one that you think is funny?" asks Taylor.
With a little help from your friends. - Mary Kathleen Flynn
See Jan. 10 post on FriendFeed from Tech Confidential