February 25, 2008

FriendFeed Opens Up, Raises $5 Million in Funding

After several months in closed beta, available by invitation only, FriendFeed, a leading social service for aggregating your Web lifestream, opened up its doors to the general public tonight, and announced Series A financing of $5 million, including funds from Benchmark Capital and two of the company's co-founders, Paul Buchheit and Sanjeev Singh.

In the competitive social activities aggregation landscape, FriendFeed has stood out from the competition thanks to its origins, founded by a small group of former Googlers, its clean design, and its rapid adoption of new features, implemented in a way that benefit users.

While FriendFeed has been at times compared with the FaceBook news feed, FriendFeed offers not a dumping ground for application spam, but instead a new way to "discover and discuss information among friends," as FriendFeed co-founder Bret Taylor put it in a press release issued late tonight. In my several months of using FriendFeed, it's become a must-visit site multiple times a day, as the service not only streams my Web activity in one central location, but also that of my online peers, giving us the opportunity to comment and share new ideas and findings.

The site has become such a big part of my Web activity, that just yesterday, I made FriendFeed.com my start page online. Also of interest, long-time FriendFeed holdout Robert Scoble finally jumped in to the service feet-first, following repeated prodding from me.

And the prodding hasn't just been focused at inviting new users. FriendFeed, over the last few months, has been overwhelmingly responsive to feedback, including my 10 suggestions for FriendFeed from last December. In just the last few weeks alone, FriendFeed added a new tabbed interface, opened a new company store for FriendFeed logo items, and added options to add items in a new window. They may seem like small details, but the company is constantly innovating.

With FriendFeed opening up tonight, we can expect the service to grow tremendously, kicking off the next wave of social networking services aimed not at posting busy profiles, but instead, aimed at collaboration, sharing and communication. We're excited to see FriendFeed grow, and look forward to their next stage.