From 'Friends' to Friendster CEO For Sassa
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In a move that could signal a coming business model shift for Friendster, the social networking site has hired former NBC President Scott Sassa as the new CEO of the company.
As a media vet, Sassa would bring plenty of knowledge about advertising and even possible subscription models to Friendster, which boasts millions of devotees but no clear path to revenues just yet.
The move is also reminiscent of the Yahoo! experience, in which the online media portal company replaced Tim Koogle as its CEO with entertainment industry veteran Tony Semel. Koogle is now a member of Friendster board of directors.
"We believe marrying Scott's experience with a growing Internet service such as Friendster will be truly powerful," Koogle said in a statement. "Over the past several months, Friendster has been building the foundation for a strong advertising model, and we believe Scott will be instrumental in helping the company develop a great business."
Friendster is widely attributed with creating the Social Networking site phenomenon, which has since been copied by others for both social and business use with sites including LinkedIN, Ryze, Google's Orkut, Tribe Networks and Tickle, to name a handful.
But the issue for most of the ventures is how they plan to generate revenues. Executives of Social Networking sites have said there is money to be made from their networks, such as subscriptions and advertising.
Sassa is TV entertainment industry veteran, and a veteran of the network that brought shows such as "Friends" to the masses. Sassa held numerous top executive positions at NBC from 1997-2003, including president, NBC West Coast, President NBC Television Stations and President of NBC Entertainment. Before his NBC stint, Sassa was at Turner Broadcasting System where he launched TNT, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies. He was also a vice president at Fox broadcasting.
Jonathan Abrams, founder of Friendster, remains as company chairman and will work together with Sassa.
Since it was founded in 2003, Friendster counts over seven million people who have joined the networking site.