Every once in a while, a person or team of people come along and change the Internet forever. In the 1980s, it was Bill gates and Steve Jobs, in the early 2000s, it was Mark Zuckerberg and Tom Anderson, and today, it's the people people discussed below. These folks shaped the very fabric of the social web, and through their contributions, they have made the Internet a more exciting and connected place to be. Today we recognize these architects of the social web, their revolutionary creations, and what accomplishments helped them achieve the heights they've reached.
The phenomenally popular social news website Reddit enables content publishers to share stories and interesting news items with fellow Internet techies, and have those stories rated by readers according to how exciting or interesting they are. The site was founded in 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, two young graduates of the University of Virginia. The company received its initial start-up funding from the popular incubation investment firm Y Combinator. Since its inception, the website has grown into a direct competitor of Kevin Rose's Digg, and recent reports indicate that it my have even overtaken the website in terms of page views.
Foursquare is one of the fastest growing social networking applications according to Innova, and it isn't hard to see why. The service allows users to "check in" at different stores, restaurants, and locations, and earn discounts and special offers for doing so. Foursquare's founder Dennis Crowley is no stranger to the social networking world. In 2000, Crowley invented a mobile location-based service known as Dodgeball that was later sold to Google. In 2005, Crowley began work on a Foursquare, which has since grown into a 4 million user empire with no signs of slowing down.
Mashable is one of the Internet's most popular news websites for bleeding edge social media innovations and Web 2.0 news, serving over 10 million unique monthly readers. Mashable was founded by the ambitious and accomplished Pete Cashmore in 2005. According to Mashable's company biography, Cashmore was only 19 years old and living in a small Scottish town at time of founding. Since starting Mashable, Cashmore was featured as one of INC Magazine's 30 Under 30, Forbes' Top 25 Web Celebs, and the Huffington Posts' Top 10 Game Changers 2009.
LinkedIn took the concept of social networking from the realm of casual time-killing and turned it into a way to meet professionals in your field and associate with those you've worked with. With the professional class in mind, LinkedIn provides a people a way to make recommendations, professional introductions, and references for work past and present. Reid Hoffman left his position at PayPal to found LinkedIn and now serves as the Chief Executive Officer.
In addition to LinkedIn, Hoffman serves as a board member to Grassroots.com, JumpStart Technologies, SixApart, and Vendio. According to his professional bio, he has also served as an angel investor to popular social networking website Friendster.
In 2003, Joshua Schachter created Del.icio.us, the website that pioneered social bookmarking. This type of service enables people to share their bookmarked websites with the rest of the web, allowing users to discover new websites and keep their bookmarks in one place. Schachter is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to founding Delicious, Schachter is the creator of Memepool, a website that collects popular Internet memes and viral content and posts them all in a central location.
StumbleUpon is the world's largest Internet discovery service with over 10 million registered users and 45 million human-submitted webpages. The browser plug-in lets users specify their interests and press a button that takes them to interesting websites and videos submitted by other similar users. Garrett Camp has founded the service in 2001 and has after studying for his Master in Software Engineering at the University of Calgary. Camp was also distinguished by MIT as the recipient of their TR35 award.
Last.FM is a music discovery and sharing system that monitors the songs a user listens to and recommends new music based on its perception of the user's tastes. In addition, Last.FM posts your playlists to your profile to share your music tastes with friends and other users. Richard Jones innovated the method of scanning a library of songs and determining music taste as a computer science project for the University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science in the UK.
This audio engine, which he later termed audioscrobbling, caught the interest of Felix Miller, Martin Stiksel, Michael Breidenbruecker and Thomas Willomitzer of Last.FM, and was soon incorporated into website as the main feature if the growing music community. In 2007, TechCrunch reported that Last.FM was acquired by CBS for $280 million.
Buzznet provides users with one place to share photos, videos, and small blog-like journal entries. Buzznet differentiates itself from other social networking communities by focusing primarily on shared interests and communities based around ideas and passions (such as art and photography). Founders Marc Brown, Steve Haldane, Kevin Woolery and Anthony Batt started Buzznet in 2005 with an initial investment from Anthem Venture Partners, and before the end of the year, their fast implementation caused several prominent newspapers to use the site for their relevant photographs.
By March of 2008, Mashable reports that Buzznet gained an additional $25 million in funding and achieved a place in the top 20 in the social networking industry.
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