Here at PC World Towers, we were always a little dubious about iYomu.com, the New Zealand-developed website that launched with a global ambition to become "the social networking site for grown-ups". Now, an email to members has announced its June 28 closure. Here's where it went wrong.
My first thought at the August 2007 launch was: they've reinvented Facebook, which a year ago was already firmly established as the service of choice for 20, 30 and 40-somethings who found MySpace and Bebo too yoofy.
There were other problems, including the fact iYomu's $US1 million puzzle competition came over like a piece of spam (an impression not helped by a mysterious, extended process of determining the winner. Apparently some guy in Malaysia eventually pocketed the cash. For some reason, iYomu choose not to promote the handover, or document it in any way, to the annoyance of members on its message boards).
Then there were deeper problems. iYomu was smartly designed, but it positioned itself as a site where you could locate strangers with common interests. Facebook has that dimension too, but the genius of founder Mark Zuckerberg was to generate a service that let people map their existing networks, then expand from there at their own comfort level.
iYomu aimed for 10 million users by Christmas 2007. Enough people, it thought, for a commercially-viable number to upgrade to its paid online storage service (itself a dubious proposition when Google, Yahoo and others give you gigs of free file space, if you're game enough to back-up online). In the event, there were 100,000 members, according to a final email from founder David Wolf-Rooney.
Wolf-Rooney had initially promised that the online storage model would pay the bills and there would be no advertisements - quite an appealing feature to those tired of Facebook's blinky, chaotic cacaphony - but ended up breaking that pledge. And in a bizarre corollary, Wolf-Rooney writes in his final message:
"As the founder of iYomu and now the official closer I thought I would send you a movie clip that sums up many of the conversations that have taken place in this online community filled with Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians + 100 other countries."
I clicked on the accompanying link, and was taken to a vodka ad on YouTube.
A dumb way to finish.