The Decline of Social Media Aggregators: Why Power.com Failed

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The last five years have witnessed a huge surge in social media sites and users, especially with the advent of Facebook and Twitter. Users now have more and more options for meeting new people and discussing their interests. However, new websites have meant multiple accounts that compete for your limited attention, a conundrum that has lead to the birth of social media aggregators. Yet those looking to consolidate users’ social media accounts and provide an attention-saving solution may want to heed the cautionary tale of early social media aggregator Power.com.

In October 2008 a study by Comscore has showed that at least 50 million users have used two social media websites during the month. At that time, there was no effective way of aggregating the data and activity from all these sites into a single interface. In late November 2008, a Brazilian-backed venture called Power.com was launched with this goal in mind. The service supported social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut, Hi5 and an early YouTube, and went on to peak at 5 million users.

 

A Screenshot of the Power.com Interface.

Power.com allowed you to login to various social networks and integrate them in your dashboard. Once logged in with all the info, users could respond or comment on content directly from Power, or even send updates to all of their social networks at once. Or, you could send a message to just one friend, but have it sent to all of their different social networks.

The benefit of this service was that it allowed users to keep track of friends on social networks they belong to but don’t visit very often, update status messages simultaneously on all networks, and upload photos easily on all the sites.

However Power.com was doomed not to remain active for long because of terms of use problems with Facebook.

Power.com vs. Facebook and MySpace

On December 30, 2008, Facebook sued Power.com for Violation of terms of use, copyrights and trademarks. Facebook accused Power.com of scraping user information from their site and storing it. Generally, Facebook has very strict protocols for connecting to third party websites (specifically through Facebook connect) but power.com chose to ignore their protocol, leading to the lawsuit.

A month later, Power.com was blocked by MySpace because it was not using the proper authentication protocols demanded by Myspace either. This became the beginning of the end for the site, since it began to have antagonistic relationships with the two biggest social networks of the time.

The End of Power.com

By the beginning of 2011, Power.com as we know it was gone. After bumping heads too many times with the major social networks over terms of use and authentication issues the website could not proceed. Now Power.com has been replaced by an auction for the domain name that demands a minimum bid of $2.5 million. The website’s creators are mostly likely thinking of ways to recoup some of the $6 million in capital raised by their investors. With a domain name as attractive as Power.com, this might prove to be a good business opportunity.

Social media aggregators can prove to be very useful tools, especially in these times, in which social networks are plentiful and each has its own subtleties. We now have tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that have successfully integrated with Twitter and Facebook, and also have aggregators like FriendFeed that have managed to successfully consolidate multiple social networks without a hitch. With the entry of Google+ in the social media space, and the death of other social aggregators like Streamy and social browser Flock, the time may be ripe for another aggregator. Yet Power.com’s failure to play ball with the biggest social media sites is an excellent cautionary tale for anyone looking to enter the space— rules do apply.


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