Rupert Murdoch, chair of News Corp., is buying Dow Jones & Co, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal for $5 billion. Yesterday he announced that he's ending the subscription model for the WSJ.com website (which many deem a success). He'll give up $50 million in fees, which he expects to more than make up for in advertising.
The question for the social media world that comes to mind is:
Hello, Classmates.com??? Are you listening??
Remember when Classmates.com was relevant? They could've/should've been the social networking site of the free world. And they still have a chance. They had 40 million members by the end of 2006. (My high school graduating class has 224 people listed on Classmates.com, but only 8 are on Facebook.) But every time you turn around on Classmates.com (or heaven forbid try to learn something about someone, their hand goes out asking for $15 for "Gold" membership).
I remember that business model for the web. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but that was a long time ago. Classmates.com needs to take the small dollar needle out of their vein (and I'm sure it's not easy) and find a way to leverage their huge base of information in a new way. I believe they're trying, but little incremental changes are unlikely to get them there.
There's at least anecdotal evidence that Classmates.com's window of opportunity is closing.
In June 2006, comscore reported that Classmates.com had slighter HIGHER numbers of unique visitors than Facebook. Classmates.com was #2 to MySpace.
By February 2007, Hitwise was reporting that had fallen to 8th, behind Yahoo360. Ouch.
Classmates.com, if you're listening... It's time for the big change. Find the VC, build the sales force and make the change. It might be a "risk the company" type move, but doing nothing is far riskier.