Market Overview

How Will Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter Look in One Year?

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Why Twitter could be the social network that outlasts them all.

As we speak, a war is brewing. It is not one with weapons and bloodshed, but one with status updates, embarrassing photos, and nonsensical messages written in 140 characters or less. It is one with things you Like but never what you Dislike. And it involves circles, friends, and a lot of plus-ones.

What is this war that I speak of? If you have to ask, you must have spent the last five years with your face buried in a book while the rest of us got on Facebook.

With the rise of LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), the birth of Twitter, and the creation of other social networking sites, many thought that Facebook's reign would be over. But that hasn't proven to be the case. In fact, it wasn't until Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) entered the fray that things started to get really interesting. With more than 20 million registered users (estimated), Google+ is quickly gaining a piece of the market. However, when compared to Facebook, which currently has more than 750 million users, Google's tiny sum doesn't sound all that threatening.

But could it be? Could Google+ continue to grow so fast that it will one day pose a serious threat to Facebook? Brad Feld, co-founder and managing director of Foundry Group, weighed in during a recent interview with Benzinga.

“I have been using [Google+] intermittently since it came out,” said Feld, who is the co-author of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist. “One of the things that I find most compelling about it is that it uses the ‘follow' model that Twitter has. But you have pretty fine controls about who you broadcast your data to, which I've always had an incredibly difficult time dealing with on Facebook. So it does address certain things in Facebook in a very different way.”

Full Interview: Brad Feld on How to Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist

Feld said that he feels that Google+ is “extremely well done” and that it is “very clear that Google has put an enormous amount of energy into the product vision.” But he thinks that this social network is much different from Facebook and Twitter.

“It will be interesting to see a year from now how people allocate their attention,” Feld adds. “When you're allocating your attention primarily between Facebook and Twitter, especially with the fact that they can connect together, you get a certain type of behavior. Now that you've got significant social networks, obviously these three, as well as some others that people are paying attention to (like Foursquare), there is a finite amount of attention that any one individual can spend on these things.”

There may be a limited amount of time, but Feld believes that there could be a scenario in which people use multiple tools for different things. “I think that the social networks [aspire] to be the primary tool that people use,” he said. “I think that Twitter is somewhat different categorically in terms of the way that it is used in the infrastructure and I think that gives it a very durable, long-term advantage as something that people will use alongside other tools. I, for one, hope that Twitter does not lose its simplicity in that regard because I think that's part of the genius of it.”

That's not to say that you should count out Twitter's competitors. “Google+ is fully integrated within Google Apps,” Feld noted. “There [are] so many powerful things you can do, whether it's video or chat and I think that creates a lot of potential disruption for Skype and whatever Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) long-term strategy is.”

Finally, Feld said that the “neat thing” about all of this (from a user perspective) is that the “pressure on these companies to innovate is higher than it has ever been, especially when you toss mobile and tablets into the mix and I think that is what's going to make better products for everyone long-term, which is a good sign.”

To hear more from the Foundry Group co-founder and managing director, don't miss Benzinga's full interview with Brad Feld.

Follow me @LouisBedigian

Posted-In: Brad Feld Facebook Foundry Group Google Google Apps Google+ Jason MendelsonTech Best of Benzinga

 

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