While doing some research for my social media class here at EMU, I decided to investigate the history of modern social networking sites. The website that is widely regarded as the first popular modern social networking site is SixDegrees.com.
Haven’t heard of Six Degrees? Don’t worry. Before my investigation I hadn’t heard of it either. What’s interesting is that at its peak of popularity, Six Degrees had well over one million users.
Six Degrees was founded by financial analyst and legal professional Andrew Weinreich, and was launched in 1997. It was created based on the theory that every person in the world could be connected to each other by just six degrees of separation. The site lasted from 1997 until 2001.
The site was the first to combine personal profiles, instant messaging, friends lists and the ability to search other members friends lists. It was really the predecessor to sites like Myspace and Facebook.
Six Degrees may have been created a bit before its time. As the site grew, the world of online advertising was in its infancy and Weinreich was unable to keep the site afloat. Spam problems and revenue issues ultimately doomed the site and it shut down in 2001. In 2010, the site attempted a rebirth. People that had existing memberships with Six Degrees have been invited back with hopes of recreating the network.
Over the past decade or so, Weinreich has been working on other social media ventures. He is currently the CEO of the dating site MeetMoi.com. He is also the chairman of Xtify, a push notification service. Weinreich has also been instrumental in other Internet ventures, creating Joltage, a business dedicated to building a network of global WiFi networks. These are just a few of the social media related projects Weinreich has been involved in.
Although people usually think of the name Zuckerberg when they think of the forefathers of social media, there are others that paved the way for sites like Facebook. Weinreich is one of these forward thinkers that helped grow ideas and trends in social media.