Malaysian company buys Friendster
KUALA LUMPUR: Friendster, one of the most popular social networking sites in the world, is now owned by a Malaysian company.
The new owner, MOL Global Pte Ltd, is a newly-formed entity spawned from the recent MOL AccessPortal Bhd acquisition of California-based Friendster Inc.
The merger of the two companies is aimed at creating Asia’s largest end-to-end content, distribution and commerce network.
This will be achieved through the pairing of MOL’s offline retail channel partners and payment platform with Friendster’s large online footprint, social network and user community in Asia.
Friendster has 115 million members worldwide, with more than 75 million registered users in Asia alone. Today, 80% of its Asian members are youths aged between 16 and 24.
“We are creating a unique company that will be well positioned to provide content to a huge, regional user base, especially here in Asia,” said newly appointed MOL Global Group CEO Ganesh Kumar Bangah. Friendster’s former CEO, Richard Kimber, is now the non-executive chairman.
Bangah said a wide array of merchandise via MOL, such as games, goods, gifts, music and videos, will now be made available to the Friendster community.
MOL — an MSC Malaysia-status company whose business is payment solutions — has more than 500,000 physical and virtual payment channels across 75 countries for its content and services. Its core markets are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and India.
The company also has relationships with more than 70 online games publishers, which in total provide more than 200 titles. It also has partnerships covering music, movie and video content.
Earlier this month, Friendster announced several initiatives that will see it focusing more on the Asian youth market, including a rebranding exercise and redesigned webpages with emphasise on Asian relevance.
According to Bangah, MOL Global will continue with these directions set by the previous Friendster management before the merger.
“At the same time, we will look at combining both our valued assets to create Asia’s biggest content distribution and e-commerce platform,” he said.
Kimber said the deal provides Friendster with the kind of financial backing and resources — such as retail distribution centres and e-commerce infrastructure — to further the social networking site’s development.
“This merger enables us to accelerate our strategy and create more locally relevant, fun experiences for our users both on and offfline,” he said.
The offices of both MOL and Friendster around the world, including the Friendster headquarters in Mountain View, California, will be retained, said Bangah.
“In countries where both companies operate, such as Singapore and the Philippines, we will combine the staff and resources,” he added.
Friendster’s rivals include the popular Facebook and MySpace social networking sites, as well as local sites JomSocial and Ruumz.
The principal shareholder of MOL is Tan Sri Vincent Tan who is chairman and CEO of Berjaya Corporation Bhd.http://star-techcentral.com/tech/story.asp?file=/2009/12/10/technology/20091210164923&sec=technology