Photo: Anthony Easton on Flickr
As Facebook has advanced from a college social network to a universal network, a void has been created in the realm of college social networking. Various websites have emerged to fill this void but none of them have been able to achieve lasting financial sustainability.Juicy Campus was among the most successful of these websites. In less than a year and a half of being launched, the controversial gossip website spread to over 500 campuses and was enjoying a monthly traffic of more than one million unique visitors. Despite phenomenal growth, the website was shut down as the revenue generated through advertisements was inadequate to offset the maintenance costs. JuicyCampus had everything going for it except a solid revenue generation model, which also reminds us of how Ad Revenue alone is not a realistic revenue model for a social network of this nature and magnitude.
Another big name in the college social networking realm was GoodCrush. Launched by Princeton student Josh Weinstein, the website offered college students a platform to anonymously post the description and nature of their daily crushes, or the so-called ‘missed connections’. Next in line was RandomDorm which simply brought the concept of Chatroulette to college campuses.
Lead by CEO Josh Weinstein and funded by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel, CollegeOnly is the product of GoodCrush and RandomDorm. LikeaLittle, on the other hand, is an intelligently designed version of GoodCrush that has managed to keep the content clean while maintaining a very simple and easy-to-use layout.
However, while both websites enjoyed significant growth in the first few months after launch, LikeaLittle’s traffic has decreased by 74 per cent over the past month and CollegeOnly is doing even worse in terms of total monthly traffic,
Top investors. Cool ideas. Exponential growth. Good press. Then what happens?
It seems that compelling ideas such as anonymous flirting and Chatroulette do enjoy initial successes, but students eventually get bored out of these concepts. While other intuitively addictive ideas are likely to emerge, the big question is: will any of these ‘fun’ ideas be matched with a strong revenue generation model that can provide financial sustainability along with long-term value creation? I think the answer is yes; its only a matter of time.