Above is a screenshot of my Orkut profile page (that was my hairstyle in 2004). I have one friend on Orkut. Ever heard of it? I can’t blame you.
In 2004 Google decided they should launch a social network. That’s right, someone at Google saw the potential of social networks while Zuckerberg was still in his dorm room. It was the year Orkut was born.
I remember I was quite excited when a Brazilian colleague at British Telecom, where I was a researcher in a former life, added me as a friend on Orkut. It was invite only and everyone in the tech community was talking about it.
Orkut overtook Friendster before Facebook did
Common folklore says that Facebook killed Friendster. It didn’t really. Friendster just never reached the heights Facebook did. In fact, Orkut overtook Friendster long before Facebook did.
One year after Twitter’s famous SXSW breakthrough, Orkut was still much bigger
Twitter set the Texas conference ablaze in 2007 when the early adopters suddenly started Tweeting. But it wasn’t until late 2010 that Twitter got bigger than Orkut.
Facebook didn’t kill Friendster, it killed Orkut
Facebook overtook Orkut in 2007. Why am I still talking about Friendster?
No one comes close to Facebook
And in case you were wondering, this is why you discovered this blog post on Facebook (well, most of you anyway).
We’re big in Brazil
So why haven’t you heard of Orkut? Why is a Brazilian computer scientist my only friend on this social network success story? Because Orkut was huge in Brazil, and only in Brazil.
If Orkut would have been an independent company, could they have expanded beyond Brazil? Should Google have used it as a jumping board onto greater things rather than start a new social network, Google+?
Either way it’s too late. As the top chart shows Orkut has now flatlined and Google is shutting it down. And I still only have the one friend on Google’s first social network.