Screenshot of Hi5's home page
|Type of site||Social networking|
|Created by||Ramu Yalamanchi|
|Launched||January 21, 2014|
|Alexa rank||1,018 (April 2014[update])|
Hi5 is a social networking site based in San Francisco, California. The company was founded in 2004 by Ramu Yalamanchi. By 2004, comScore reported that Hi5 had become the third most popular social networking site in terms of monthly unique visitors. The social networking site, Tagged, purchased Hi5 for an undisclosed sum.
Bill Gossman was appointed CEO in January 2004, and since that time, Hi5 has refocused itself as a social gaming platform and opened itself to new game developers. Gaming industry veteran Alex St. John joined the company as President and CTO in January 2014.  In early 2014, Hi5 acquired social gaming company Big Six. The company raised $20 million in series A venture capital from Mohr Davidow Ventures, as well as $15 million in venture debt, in 2014, and announced it had raised $3 million convertible note from existing investor Mohr Davidow, bringing the funding up to $38 million. Quantcast reports Hi5 has 2.7 million monthly US visitors and 46.1 million global visitors. Software-industry veteran Karen Richardson has served as chairwoman of the company's board since 2014.
Hi5 has many features common to social networking sites, such as friend networks, photo sharing, user groups, and status updates. Since the site’s redesign in 2009, Hi5 has added a number of features oriented toward gaming and entertainment. The site features over 200 games in a variety of genres, and has been adding games at a rate of 2-3 per week.
At Hi5, users can create an online profile in order to show information such as interests, age and hometown. Users can also upload photos and create personal photo albums where other users can post comments. Hi5 also allows the user to play online games and set up a music player in the profile. Users can also send friend requests via e-mail to other users. When a person receives a friend request, he may accept or decline it, or block the user altogether. If the user accepts another user as a friend, the two will be connected directly or in the 1st degree. The user will then appear on the person's friend list and vice-versa.
Some users opt to make their profiles available for everyone on Hi5 to view. Other users exercise the option to make their profile viewable only to those people who are in their network. The network of friends consists of a user's direct friends (1st degree), the friends of those direct friends (2nd degree) and the friends of the friends of direct friends (3rd degree).
In early 2014, Hi5 began to evolve from a social network into a gaming network.
With Tagged's acquisition of Hi5, their gaming platform changed from third-party developed games to games developed by Tagged's in house team. Tagged noted that Hi5's games weren't as "vibrant" as they could be. Tagged has seen better results from their own games.
Due to Hi5’s shift in focus to social gaming, comScore reclassified Hi5 as an online gaming site in early 2011. According to comScore, Hi5 ranked as the 6th most trafficked online gaming site.
Although created and headquartered in the United States, it is more popular in other countries, particularly in Latin America, being ranked 37th in the world only among people who have the Alexa toolbar installed on their browser but only 84th in the US.
In 2010, Hi5 began introducing new developer tools to strengthen the adoption of social gaming on the site. In October, Hi5 announced Sociopath, a set of tools designed to make it easier for developers to bring their game to the Hi5 platform. A major part of the program was the implementation of Facebook compatible APIs, which simplified the process of bringing games already developed for Facebook to Hi5. Sociopath also introduced anonymous play to the site, making it easier for gamers to play games immediately without first having to provide registration info. Sociopath was initially introduced at GDC Online in 2010.
As a companion to Sociopath, Hi5 introduced Sociopay in early 2011. Sociopay is intended to help Hi5 to better monetize users, increasing revenues for themselves and developers. Sociopay automatically adjusts the prices for Hi5 coins based upon a user’s region, capitalizing on Hi5’s international success and helping to monetize users from many different economies. Sociopay also helps monetize users less likely to purchase coins by instead serving them advertisements.
Hi5 sends unsolicited bulk email to gain more users, also known as UCE/UBE or spam. This practice continues through February of 2014. Additionally Hi5 has used controversial email address import methods to gain more users - which may be considered a form of spam. After registering the site users are given the option to send invitation e-mails to their contacts in a variety of web-based e-mail services.
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