Friendster gets its game on

  • Friendster officially relaunched, backed by US$1.5m campaign
  • Sets ambitious target to increase no of Malaysian members

Friendster gets its game onFRIENDSTER, which was acquired by Asia’s leading e-payment and e-lifestyle provider MOL Global Pte Ltd (MOL) in 2009, was officially re-launched Thursday, May 17.

With around 100 million users, MOL is touting the pioneer social networking site as the region’s largest online community.

In keeping with the fact that the Philippines is the most active market for Friendster with 40% of total active users, the official relaunch there was held on April 25. The relaunch had an immediate impact in the Philippines with between a 15% and 20% jump in active users a month after its relaunch.

MOL is looking at an aggressive jump in active users in Malaysia too, says its group chief executive officer Ganesh Kumar Bangah, a drive backed by an aggressive two-month US$1.5-million advertising and promotion budget for the Malaysian relaunch, mainly for digital properties.

“We currently have four million active users in Malaysia and are targeting to increase this to 10 million by the end of this year,” he says.

Ganesh agrees it is aggressive but says it is also “doable.”  He is betting on the strong focus Friendster will have on games and social discovery as the honey that will draw new users in.

While Friendster pioneered the social networking industry and paved the way for the emergence of other sites, it lost its mojo along the way and thus the pressure was on for MOL to reposition Friendster to find its unique proposition in order to remain relevant.

Friendster gets its game on“By leveraging on Friendster’s strongest asset in the form of its millions of users and harnessing MOL’s strength as an e-payments and content distributor, we were able to successfully redesign Friendster to become a social discovery and gaming platform, host to the largest online community in South-East Asia,” claims Ganesh (pic).

Friendster is also inviting developers to use its APIs (application programming interfaces) to develop engaging apps for its four million users in Malaysia. MOL will integrate its Friendster Coins as the payment mechanism with a 30% cut of revenue.

MOL is also introducing two new assets, the Friendster iCafe, a cybercafe management system, and Friendster HotSpot.

Over 400 cybercafes are using the Friendster iCafe and what is interesting is the 150 million videos and banner ads a month that is delivered via the system to cybercafé users.

The Friendster HotSpot is delivered at the F&B properties of the Berjaya Group, at Starbucks, Papa John Pizza etc. The landing page when users log in will be and Ganesh see strong advertising potential here.

“We have 1.5 million monthly unique users,” he points out. From today, they will be seeing when they log in to a Friendster HotSpot.

The challenge now is to drive Friendster deeper into users’ daily lives. Thus the slew of new features added to the site:

  • Innovative and user-friendly interface;
  • Selections of avatars to suit your personas;
  • Chat with existing and new friends via the Friendster Chat Application while playing games on Friendster;
  • Over 50 online games from eight different genre like role-playing, strategy, simulations and card games;
  • Earn rewards through points for every activity within the site including adding friends, engaging with friends, daily log-in or playing any game;
  • Simple, easy-to-obtain virtual currency that can be used to purchase virtual goods, online games and applications in a safe and convenient manner.

Friendster will combine search, content discovery and social functionalities. In line with the brand promise, it will host advanced ways of searching, engaging and making new friends, and distinct approach to discover new games.

“More features are on the way,” promises Ganesh.

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