There are only so many social networks we can handle. When a new one emerges, like, say Google+, it has two options: kill or be killed. Remember what happened to Friendster? MySpace? The thinking goes that as Google+ grows, it can either replace Facebook or go the way of MySpace.
But perhaps there's a third way and two similar social networks can peacefully coexist? MySpace co-founder Tom Anderson (he was the first friend on every new account created) thinks so, "I want to see more distinct networks thrive. I don’t think social networking is a zero sum game," he explains in a TechCrunch editorial. Even though his own Internet social experiment failed, as Facebook dominated the space, he doesn't think it has to be that way as Google+ grows.
Learning from his own experiences as founder of a has-been site, he offers the following wisdom to Google+, hoping it doesn't have the same fate of his own failed project.
1. Google+ doesn't have to kill Facebook
Everyone assumes that only so many social networks can dominate at a given moment. Facebook ruled the aughts, now it's someone else turn. Sure, there's competition for users, but Anderson makes it clear that a social network thrives or fails not just because of competition, but also because of the real problems that existed within the network. "I suspect that people believe that social networking is a 'winner take all' endeavor, because they mistakenly assume people 'left MySpace for Facebook.' Facebook didn’t kill Myspace; MySpace 'committed suicide' through continual mismanagement," he writes. Anderson believes glitches killed these networks, and that multiple networks can coexist, "Likewise, MySpace did not 'kill Friendster'—Friendster had its own set of problems. If they’d been corrected, I believe both MySpace and Facebook would have thrived as different types of social networks." If Google recognizes that it doesn't have to create the new Facebook, but rather a distinct product, both Facebook and Google+ can live in peace.