Everyme, a heavily funded social networking service, made it big last week when they unveiled web and Android versions of their previously iPhone-only app. The social networking service restricts itself to users' friends and families, and has a series of sophisticated algorithms that automatically determine how contacts know Everyme users. Everyme isn't just high-tech: It's also an early peak at the post-Facebook future of specialized social networks.
The California-based social networking service's secret source is a series of algorithms that go through a user's phonebook/contact list and automatically sort contacts into coworkers, family members, friends, neighbors, work contacts and other sublists—with a surprisingly high success rate. In a phone conversation with Fast Company, CEO Oliver Cameron explained that the algorithms were designed to understand the relationships between end users and their contacts. More importantly, Everyme was only able to provide their service with the advent of cloud computing—by using Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company was able to get the computer brainpower their sophisticated algorithms require.
Everyme, of course, is well funded and has prominent backers. The Y Combinator graduate recently raised $1.5 million in seed funding from a team of Silicon Valley A-listers including Andreessen-Horowitz, Crunchfund, and Greylock Partners. Since launching in April 2012, Everyme has attracted over 400,000 users—a staggering growth rate. Everyme's backers hope that the company will continue to attract similar numbers of new users over the next few months.
Social networking in 2012 is an odd game. The old Facebook-MySpace-Friendster (remember those?) wars are over and Mark Zuckerberg's creation is the Internet's de facto user directory in much of the world. Facebook attempts to be all things to all people. But while Facebook is ubiquitous, it also fails at niches. Spotify unites music lovers. Path caters to close circles of friends. Foodspotting caters to foodies. Goodreads is for readers. Instagram's for photo geeks. The list goes on and on—with the notable exception of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Tumblr, the only three truly successful non-Facebook social networking sites that exist in private ecosystems.
Like Spotify, Foodspotting, Goodreads, and Instagram, Everyme is also integrated with Facebook. Users can share Facebook status updates with circles of contacts via Everyme. Interestingly, Everyme has no option at all for public sharing: All content posted through the service goes directly to restricted circles of contacts.
Everyme's default social circles include Family, Friends, Co-workers, and “Sweethearts.” Users can easily customize social circles and all content is self-contained; stories, photos, and files posted to Everyme cannot be republished on sites like Facebook. However, Everyme does allow users to share content from Facebook, Instagram, and others on their site.
Ironically, Facebook's popularity makes it possible for other social networking sites to flourish. Facebook's Achilles heel is their awful mobile product, which makes it possible for smartphone-centric services like Everyme, Path, and Instagram to thrive (and, ironically, competitor Google+). More importantly, Facebook offers a massive list of services it provides to users. Most of these services work well, but none of them work great. This leaves space for more specialized social networking services to operate and, of course, make a profit. And if Everyme doesn't work, hey, at least users will still have one heck of an address book organizer.