Interview with Power.com CEO Steve Vachani

CEO and founder talks about why his site is social network central

Entrepreneur interview by Bambi Francisco Roizen
December 26, 2008 | Comments (5)
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/5e6

Five years ago, I was a writer explaining tirelessly what a social network was to my audience, who at the time barely understood MySpace and had yet to learn about Facebook. Today, thousands of social networks have bloomed, resulting in a need, it seems, for one social network to manage them all. 

Power.com is what I'd call that uber social network or social network central. It's one place where one login gets you into all your social networks. Well, as long as all your social networks consist of Facebook, hi5, MySpace and Orkut. Power is to social networking, like Meebo is to instant messaging. 

At first blush, it seems like yet another social network.

But after having my own demo by founder and CEO Steve Vachani, the site does seem like a convenient way to organize a social and professional life dispersed across the Web. "What we've done is to come up with a way to interconnect everything," he said, in a five-part interview with me at the Vator studios. 

Vachani showed me a consolidated view of all his friends from Orkut to hi5 to Facebook. He showed how he could click on one friend and send a message to him, while sending a message to other friends from a different social network. He showed me how he could update what he was doing on one network, and the same message would be updated across all the networks. He also showed me how he could take a photo from one friend's photo album and copy to his photo album on another network. Now that's interoperability!

Not that this isn't any small achievement! But was there more to the Power functionality? I asked.

There is a way to chat with friends on MSN Messenger if they were also on Power.com or the other social networks, said Vachani.

Indeed, the site is very useful. Check out Vachani's demo in Power.com's profile. 

But the one obvious question is whether Power.com is compliance with the terms of use of all the other social networks. After all, even Vachani would say that he's aiding the end user to "mash up" content and services from the different social networks. "Do you have a relationship with the social networks?" I asked. "We have a relationship with the user," he responded. "What does Facebook Connect do?" he went on. "Facebook Connect allows other sites to connect to Facebook. What we do is allow anyone connect to the user... Facebook isn't at the center. The user is at the center."

Vachani goes onto explain that he views Power.com as a browser or a desktop. From one place, you can access multiple sites and services without having to have a relationship with each site or service. Power is just a launching point. And, mixing contacts from one social network to another is similar to being on a social network and importing contact lists from an email account, he said. The mash-up of networks is all part of this movement toward data portability and a single sign-on. "We call this a borderless Internet," he said.


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Description: Power.com is the world’s leading Social Inter-Networking company in the world with 5 million registered users. Headquartered in Rio de J...


Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler, on December 28, 2008

This app is going to help the social networking community harness much more of their content in a truly synchronized fashion, although a question I would ask would be who is the target market for this site, the hardcore social networker who according to a recent Rubicon Consulting study only uses Facebook and Myspace, and not Orkut(http://tr.im/2orc), or the average "let's connect with old friends from school" social networker. The issue that both Facebook and Myspace have is their closed systems, people have grown accustomed to using one or the other for their social networking (with the majority going Facebook's way). Will Power.com help to unlock part of that contained usage, as Facebook Connect is trying to do?

Gary Silver
Gary Silver, on December 28, 2008

Very impressive.

Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler, on January 2, 2009

I am not sure anyone saw the latest Power.com news coming: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/facebook-sues-powercom/

Gary Silver
Gary Silver, on January 2, 2009

@Josh, I didn't see it coming, but I'm not surprised. I was wondering how they were pulling it off. I think this could get interesting, if Power has a battle strategy, although it seems they are stepping back.

Bambi Francisco Roizen, on January 2, 2009

No, I guess not. But I think I spent about half a dozen questions asking Steve to explain how he could do what he's doing and comply with the other networks at the same time!

Gary Silver
Gary Silver, on January 3, 2009

Yes, Bambi hammered away, but Vachani avoided any direct indication of his current legal challenges. But I admired the way he philosophized about a borderless internet with the user at the center, and the Power as browser analogy. Interesting also is that Facebook asks users for their Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail info to get contact lists. On the other hand, I'm not familiar with the issues that may be contained in Facebook's licensing legalese. While Power seems to be stepping back, it does appear to me they have some ground to fight, although courts are always an ugly and expensive place to be, win or lose.

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