Friendster recently announced a new multi-year strategic partnership with Yahoo! Southeast Asia, designed to benefit their users via the launch of integrated product features and promotional initiatives across both the Friendster and Yahoo! web properties. The new relationship will also foster new user registrations and increase user activity for both companies.

Yahoo! is the leading provider of web mail, instant messaging and other content and services throughout Southeast Asia, and Friendster is a leading social network in Southeast Asia with over 115 million registered users that has 90 percent of its daily traffic coming from Southeast Asia today.

On 10 December 2009 Friendster re-launched its new website with new interface in conjunction with its new financial acquisition by Malaysian company MOL Global Pte. Ltd. Concurrently the company launched all language support on a single domain, namely, becoming the first global online social network to do that. Now, over 70% of the world's Internet users can use Friendster, not only d

ue to the fact that Friendster was the first to support both the OpenSocial and the Facebook Platform. Friendster and MOL Global Pte Ltd’s will work combined on their goal to create Asia’s largest end-to-end content, distribution and commerce network, pairing MOL’s offline retail channel partners and payment platform with Friendster’s large online footprint, social network and user community in Asia.

Actually, Friendster seems to be often a pioneer in their area. The company launched its services as one of the first social networks in 2002 before MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and others popped up on the scene. Its mission was to help people staying in touch with friends in an exciting and fun way and more rapidly than in real life, face-to-face scenarios. Success didn’t wait long to come’s way. When in March 2003 the company went live, it was quickly adopted by three million users within the first few months. Today, Friendster has over 61 million unique visitors a month globally and the website receives approximately 19 billion page views per month, being one of the top 200 global websites based on web traffic.

Friendster’s triumph in Asia started mid-2005, becoming popular especially among teenagers, and has by now more monthly unique visitors than any other social networkin the region. The top 10 countries accessing Friendster, according to Alexa, are the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, the United States, Singapore, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and India. And since Friendster hired ex-Google executive Richard Kimber as CEO in 2008 the focus is even more on expansion in Asia. Thus, the strategic relationship with Yahoo! Southeast Asia seems not too surprising, which comprises mainly of four major components:

  1. a new application built by Friendster that is currently available and prominently displayed on the new Yahoo! homepage in Southeast Asia,
  2. graphical and text-based promotional placements for Yahoo! products and services on the website,
  3. the upcoming launch of enhanced search results for Friendster user profiles and Friendster Fan Profiles within Yahoo! Search, and
  4. the ability for Friendster users to soon link their Friendster account to their Yahoo! account on an opt-in basis to share their Friendster network activity updates with friends and others via Yahoo! properties.

The first two of these four components have just launched, with the remaining two coming in early 2010.

The Friendster and Yahoo! Southeast Asia strategic partnership includes:

  1. The Friendster Application for Yahoo!’s Homepage and the Yahoo! Toolbar – Friendster just launched a new application that allows users to quickly and conveniently check their Friendster network activity and perform other key Friendster activities directly from their Yahoo! homepage, or from a user’s browser-based Yahoo! Toolbar. Specifically, this Friendster application is now available on Yahoo! homepages in Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and in Malaysia in early 2010, and users around the world can add this application directly from the Yahoo! application directory. The Friendster application displays new network activity from a user’s Friendster network, such as new Shoutouts, photos, friend connections, comments, and more. It also allows users to post Shoutouts, view their Shoutout Streams, and provides quick and direct access to a user’s Friendster homepage, profile page, friends list, messages, and Fan Profiles.

    The Friendster application on Yahoo! can be installed via: or by clicking on the Friendster tab on the left side of the Yahoo! homepage. The Friendster application was developed on the Yahoo! Application Program (YAP).
  2. Yahoo! Promotional Placements on Friendster – Friendster has launched a series of custom, premium promotional placements on the website to promote Yahoo! Web Mail, Yahoo! Messenger and additional Yahoo! products and services over time. These prominent placements are on several of Friendster’s top viewed pages, including users’ homepages (both the logged-in and logged-out versions), and user profile pages.
  3. Customized Friendster Search Results on Yahoo! –Friendster will launch soon new enhanced Yahoo! search results for both Friendster member profiles and the Friendster Fan Profiles used by celebrities, artists and organizations, making Friendster results on Yahoo! Search more visible, useful, and engaging. The new search results will include a Friendster custom layout of Friendster pages in Yahoo! search results that includes convenient links, photos, and key information from the underlying profile pages. This will make Friendster results standout in Yahoo! search results, and help Yahoo! and Friendster users more easily discover and connect with the things that are important to them. Of course, privacy settings that have already been set and are controllable by each Friendster user for their profile page will apply to the information shared in these enhanced Yahoo! search results.
  4. Publishing Friendster Updates in Yahoo! Accounts – In the near future, Friendster will give its users the ability to publish Friendster network activity (from a user’s “Stream” on Friendster) to Yahoo! Messenger and other Yahoo! properties. This will allow Friendster users to share their publicly-available activities on Friendster to Yahoo! and their friends in Yahoo! Messenger, for example. Friendster users will opt-in to this program, explicitly linking their Friendster account to their Yahoo! account and answering a few key questions to establish their privacy controls and how they would like to use this feature. Friendster and Yahoo! will implement this new feature by integrating Yahoo!’s Updates API and will begin to roll out these initiatives with a plan to achieve full implementation as soon as possible. Users have already begun to benefit from the partnership as the Friendster application just launched on the homepage of Yahoo! Southeast Asia in conjunction with Yahoo! Mail and Messenger. It has been prominently promoted in placements on Friendster’s homepage and profile pages, respectively.

“We look forward to a successful strategic relationship with Yahoo! Southeast Asia with the debut of the Friendster application on Yahoo! homepages in Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines,” said David Jones, vice president of global product at Friendster. “Our new relationship, integration and cross-promotional efforts with Yahoo! will help build stronger links between two large and leading web properties in Asia for the benefit of both user bases, and will enable Friendster and Yahoo! to continue expanding our respective online communities in Southeast Asia.”

“Working together with Friendster ensures Yahoo! remains relevant to people by offering the best online content and experiences. This is a major milestone in the Yahoo! Open Strategy, our combined services will enrich the online environment allowing people to get more done faster and in a single place,” said Ken Mandel, vice president and managing director, Yahoo! Southeast Asia. "Yahoo! holds a leadership position in Southeast Asia and this new partnership with Friendster provides us with a great opportunity to further engage with the online communities.”

By Daniela La Marca