AlwaysOn Venture Summit West, Dec. 6-7

I missed the Stanford Summit (AlwaysOn) this July, but I am registered for the Venture Summit West coming up next week. I look forward to catching up with some friends on the VC side of things and comparing notes with some friends who are CEOs who will be at this conference. I usually attend the AlwaysOn Summit in July at Stanford, but I missed it this year, being in the intense startup mode still at WorldVitalRecords.com.

This will be a fun conference, partly because social networking is all the rage, and my company has launched a social network for genealogists, FamilyLink.com, that is getting increasing traction, but far more because our We’re Related Facebook application is getting serious traction, and even though we launched it later than I had hoped (5 months and 2 days after the Facebook Platform launch, which I blogged about), it has far surpassed our expectations.

Our strategy is to aggregate and provide genealogical databases to customers worldwide through our paid service, worldvitalrecords.com, and to attract millions of users through viral marketing, utilizing our own social network and building apps for other social networks. Both aspects of our strategy are now working.

WorldVitalRecords.com hits record traffic numbers every month and our subscriber numbers are really starting to climb. (The monthly option at $5.95 per month seems to have helped.)

For viral marketing, we love Facebook. But we also love the OpenSocial concept (which I have not yet blogged about) and providing our apps wherever users are. If we end up with apps and widgets on every major social web site, the big question is will our family users be able to interact seamlessly with each other and share family content and communications as easily as if they were all using the same dedicated social network? During the Social Networking 3.0 panel at the July Stanford Summit, I think the answer from the Facebook panelist sounded like a “probably” but from MySpace it seemed like a no. They were discussing how portable individual profiles would be on the social networks, and whether apps would be interactive with apps on other social networks. Of course social networks (like MySpace) probably want to “own” their customers, but I believe customers won’t allow for that, and will demand portability of profiles and interoperability of apps/widgets.

If you are going to Venture Summit West, and would like to meet up to discuss the future of online genealogy and family social networking (or social networking in general), drop me a line.

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