free html hit counter Brief Orkut Thoughts - John Battelle's Search Blog

Brief Orkut Thoughts

By - January 24, 2004

When Friendster started, it was something of a first of breed. It was a club that you had to know about to get in, I’m told (by Scott Rafer, with whom I shared coffee and chat yesterday afternoon. Scott was one of the first few hundred or so into that particular club). It wasn’t like a million people rushed to sign up – no one knew about it unless they were told by someone else. It was a true Friend of a Friend network, growing organically. There was no need to put a velvet rope at the door – only those who knew where the door was could get in anyway. Friendster remains a place you can sign up for without an invitation.

Now, fast forward to today. There’s simply no way that Orkut could launch with the same approach. Too many folks would rush the door, and they’d swamp the system, which has to scale up from somewhere. Hence, Orkut is by invitation only, and in the past few days, an invitation into Orkut has been a something of a quiet wish for many in the Valley.

Now that I’ve poked around for a couple of days, it’s quite interesting to see how the network is growing. Not surprisingly the folks with the largest networks are nearly all employees at Google, who must have been testing the system for some time. This makes Google the Eden, of sorts, the point from which the entire network will grow (yes, for those of you reading closely, I chose Eden on purpose). It makes for an interesting anthropological study, in particular to watch how Google employees’ networks metastasize outwards to the Valley and beyond. I hope for history’s sake, someone is recording this progression.

PS – As one might expect, Orkut has a messaging and email interface. Should Google make good on the rumours of getting into the email business, it seems in Orkut they already have a pretty strong play.

PPS – As many have noted, including MSFT employee Robert Scoble, Orkut is built on MSFT technology. Odd, for Google to do this. It’s a different kind of site – registration-based, as Mark Fletcher points out – but still, why use MSFT stuff? Can anyone tell me?

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18 thoughts on “Brief Orkut Thoughts

  1. > an invitation into Orkut has been a something of a quiet wish for many in the Valley

    Really? We must indeed be in an era of diminished expectations; I’ve been pinged by at least a half dozen people trying to drag me in past any virtual bouncer, and so far as I know, one can just go to the site and sign up.

    I’m hoping it proves to be more sticky and engaging than Tribe, or LinkedIn, or Ryze, or this will be yet another Eden we vacate for the Land of Nod.

  2. Ah, I see it is, in fact, invite only (trying to sign up on the home page). Well, I’m hearing from a lot of other folks who’re already there… I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of gnashing of teeth in the Valley, but link shall beget link shall beget link…

    It feels (at least from the various sign-up screens) a little more “meat-markety” than the average; I noted that Ryze *used* to allow searching by gender, then pulled that… wonder if it was from an interest in becoming a bit more professional.

  3. Adam Lasnik says:

    I’ve been extensively playing with over the last couple of days [see my review here] and I agree with Ross’ suggestion that there’s some tension here between social and business networking interests. is DEFINITELY an improvement over Friendster, but at present it seems to uneasily straddle the lines of business and pleasure, and for that reason — unless it evolves in one direction or the other — I’m uncertain about its fate, despite its impressive Google foundation.

    In the meantime, though, I’m definitely enjoying it. Despite the flirty interface, the exchanges on it have so far been interesting and thoughtful rather than obnoxiously trendy/sex-laden.

  4. Fazal Majid says:

    First of all, it’s incredibly fast and responsive – more so than my own lightly loaded, static HTML weblog on a machine a mere 3 hops away on the same ISP.

    Secondly, interestingly it seems to use ASP.NET (the .aspx extensions), when Google’s architecture is Linux-based. This does not suggest Google views this effort as strategic, otherwise they would have insisted on using their standardized toolset.

  5. Scott says:

    “Should Google make good on the rumours of getting into the email business, it seems in Orkut they already have a pretty strong play.”

    I can’t remember where I read this, but a Google spokesperson recently admitted that (despite it being disallowed in the AdSense TOS), people are already putting the ads in emails. In order to really cash in on this, all they need to do is change the rules so that it’s legit.

  6. Duchess JK says:

    obviously another site for those who have never been admitted past a real-live-in-the-cotton velvet rope.

  7. dreww says:

    I think it’s probably because that’s what Orkut Buyukkokten wanted to code in. The story I hear is that google engineers get a one day a week to work on their own projects, and this is Orkut’s. He did a similar thing at stanford called Club Nexus, and did a paper on it.

    Apologies if everybody already knows this by now.

  8. Assen says:

    “but still, why use MSFT stuff?”

    Maybe it’s the simple answer that’s hardest to find: because MSFT stuff is better?

    Or at least, better for a semiserious prototype that they expect to evolve and experiment with a lot in the coming months, and has to bear “only” a few hundred thousand users. No doubt they can throw manpower at it and port it to bare-metal C/Linux if it becomes truly popular.

  9. kevin says:

    Can any one invite me to orkut please.

  10. brenden says:

    If anyone wants to invite me aswell that’d be neato.

  11. sub-culture says:

    Hmm… Seeing Google’s claim that it is not planning on introducing Orkut as a Google app, using ASP.NET gives something easily unloadable to anyone who, say, likes MSFT technology and doesn’t have a personal network app of their own. I wonder what gigantic company with deep pockets that could be. Uncle Bill are you listening?

    Also, I read that using .NET equaled quick development for the Orkut guy.

  12. James says:

    Seems the UK are getting in on the game too. This one is a lot faster than some I have found.

  13. James says:

    Sorry, didnt put the name in – the one i found is

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  15. Lloyd Banks says:

    yeah, Portuguese is becoming popular on Orkut

  16. Devendra says: is a new way to connect friends through pictures. It is much more fun than Orkut, Myspace and various Friendster Clones.

  17. nauman says:


  18. Richard says:

    I need registration invitation.

    Richard Macwan