When people think of social media networks, it's common that the first thing to come to mind is Facebook (Nasdaq: FB). For good reason, Facebook has dominated the social media scene since Mark Zuckerberg launched the website back in 2004, and it has become the single most important social media site on the Internet.

Before Facebook, however, there were a multitude of social media networks that captured the attention of consumers, at least for a time. Due to strategic planning, a lack of timing or just plain bad luck, these social media networks have failed, leaving Facebook to rise above the rest.

Friendster

At one point, Friendster was considered the premier social media site. Within just a few months of its launch, the company had more than 3 million monthly active users, and Friendster's founder Jonathan Abrams was offered $30 million in 2003 by Google to purchase the site. Instead, Abrams chose to take on venture capital investment and try to grow the company.

The company actually ended up self-sabotaging, with user growth outpacing Friendster's ability to keep up. Web pages routinely did not load on time or at all, and Myspace quickly eclipsed Friendster in 2004.

Friendster still exists today and has created a business model on dominating the Asian markets, with more than 90% of its users based in Asia as of 2015.

Myspace

Perhaps the most well-known social media network not named Facebook, Myspace burst onto the scene in 2003 when cofounders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolf and their friends began to get tired of Friendster's lack of infrastructure.

To fix the problem, Myspace was created with a focus on strong infrastructure and scalability. By 2006, the website boasted over 100 million monthly active users, and NewsCorp bought Myspace for $580 million. The value of the company peaked for NewsCorp in 2007, when the website was valued at a whopping $12 billion.

Since 2007, Myspace has fallen greatly in the social media space, losing millions of users monthly to the rising site Facebook.

Recently, Myspace was bought for $35 million from NewsCorp by advertising network Specific Media, and entertainer Justin Timberlake took an ownership stake of the company. The website has been repurposed into a music and TV platform, and it recently launched its very own Myspace TV. Since the purchase and pivot, the website has increased its success.

Second Life

While not a traditional social media networking site per se, Second Life was at one point one of the most popular ways to meet and interact with friends on the Internet.

The website was launched in 2003 by Linden Lab. The site aimed to empower users with the ability to virtually interact with other people, participate in jobs and engage in other activities online through the use of an avatar.

The business model and use case for Second Life was different enough from Facebook that it never became a true direct competitor, but Second Life became so popular at one point that people began to make legitimate livings through their avatars. Some Second Life users even felt more at home with their virtual avatars than they did in the real world.
Similar to Friendster, Second Life's rapid growth in users caused the company to struggle with the stability of its infrastructure. In addition, the company was forced to comply with international laws that tried to regulate the money and activities that users were exchanging through the website.

These factors, coupled with the high growth and user adoption of Facebook, caused Second Life to falter and lose users month over month, a trend that has continued in 2015.

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