The social networks of yesteryear. How the mighty have fallen


The current big international social networks are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the newly formed Google+, and perhaps Tumblr, if you choose to look at it as a social network. However, go back to around 2004-2005 and these were either not around yet, or just taking their early baby steps. Back then the big ones were Friendster, LiveJournal and MySpace.

And we’re talking in past tense, because oh how the mighty have fallen. Web users are a fickle bunch, and there is probably no market as trend sensitive as social networking.

How bad is it? As you’ll see, they’re all caught in a downward spiral, but they might have peaked later in life than you think.


MySpace logoStarted in 2003, MySpace was the big dog before Facebook stole its thunder. It was a pretty strong player until quite recently, especially in the United States.

At its peak in 2007-2008, the then News Corp-owned MySpace was valued at $12 billion. In June this year, News Corp. sold MySpace for $35 million and a 5% stake in the new owner, Specific Media.

Worldwide interest in MySpace, 2004 – today:

110920 myspace trend

Worldwide site traffic to Myspace, 2009 – today:

110920 myspace traffic

(There’s more information over at Wikipedia, if you want to read up on MySpace’s history.)


Friendster logoStarted in 2002, Friendster quickly became a huge success (it’s the site that inspired MySpace) and pretty much became a blueprint for the modern-day social network. It went from being popular everywhere, to mostly being used in Asia, especially SE Asia, which has remained its power base.

In May this year, Friendster pretty much committed harakiri – at least as a social network – and was completely redesigned to focus on social gaming.

Worldwide interest in Friendster, 2004 – today:

110920 friendster trend

Worldwide site traffic to Friendster, 2009 – today:

110920 friendster traffic

(You can read more about Friendster’s history over at Wikipedia.)


Livejournal logoStarted in 1999, LiveJournal is a blogging service with strong social elements. In many ways it’s one of the social networking pioneers. To give you an idea of its status, early in the movie The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg (as played by Jesse Eisenberg) is seen blogging on LiveJournal. The scene takes place in 2003.

In 2009, after having been bought by a Russian company (SUP) a couple of years earlier, the operation of LiveJournal was moved from the United States to Russia.

Worldwide interest in LiveJournal, 2004 – today:

110920 livejournal trend

Worldwide site traffic to Livejournal, 2009 – today:

110920 livejournal traffic

(More about LiveJournal’s history over at Wikipedia.)

“Hold on, we’re not dead yet!”

The funny thing is, relatively speaking these social networks are still big. They still have millions of users. They haven’t died, they’ve just fallen from grace, most of their users having left for greener pastures.

It’s like one of those aging Hollywood movie stars of yesteryear, still good, but no longer cast in the best roles and no longer able to pull the crowds to the theaters.

“I used to be famous,” she said with a sigh. “I used to be a star.”


  1. Nice statistics. Its true but also its a good thing other giants have taken the spot. Its more competition to be honest. I am looking forward for a thread about how big google+ has become in 1 week after a wide opening and how long will it take (theoretically) to beat facebook.

    Also hi5 should have been analized in this topic in my opinnion. Keep up the good work boys!

  2. Interesting post.

    A few things:

    I agree that hi5 could have been included.

    I am surprised to see LiveJournal hanging on so well. It seems to have faired the best.

    Tumblr is an interesting platform, the quasi blog/social network hybrid it has created might be a reason for its success among young people.

  3. man they’re collapsing. A year ago some people would still open myspace regularly, especially bands/musician, but nowadays it has really passed. I’m glad that now there are so many other choices for bands/musician to go out and promote their stuff

  4. Facebook is starting to put some ads everywhere, and when you have too many friends it’s no longer that much interesting
    there will be some room for other players soon, maybe more segmented

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and not published in real time. All comments that are not related to the post will be removed.