Screenshot of Hi5's home page
Type of site
|Created by||Ramu Yalamanchi|
|Launched||June 27, 2003|
|19,018 (April 2014[update])|
hi5 is a social networking site based in San Francisco, California. Founded in 2003, it was reported to be the 2nd largest social network after Myspace by 2007. In 2008, comScore reported that hi5 was the third most popular social networking site in monthly unique visitors behind Facebook and MySpace. The social networking site, if(we), formerly known as Tagged, purchased hi5 in December 2011, for an undisclosed sum and operates it today.
Prior to 2004, the Company had raised $250,000 in an angel investment round, and utilized this early investment to bring the Company to profitability. In 2007, the Company raised $20 million in series A venture capital from Mohr Davidow Ventures, as well as $15 million in venture debt. The Company had gained significant market share in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and Mary Meeker had cited hi5 as the 10th largest site in the World in her 2007 Technology / Internet Trends report.
Bill Gossman was appointed CEO in April 2009, and at that time, hi5 refocused itself as a social gaming platform and opened itself to new game developers. In early 2010, hi5 acquired social gaming company Big Six. in 2010, and announced it had raised $3 million convertible note from existing investor Mohr Davidow, bringing the funding up to $38 million.
In January 2011, Alex St. John joined the company as President and CTO. Quantcast reported hi5 has 2.7 million monthly US visitors and 46.1 million global visitors. Software-industry veteran Karen Richardson served as chairwoman of the company's board in 2011.
Hi5 had many typical social networking features, such as friend networks, photo sharing, user groups, and status updates. In a 2009 redesign, hi5 added a number of features oriented toward gaming and entertainment. The site featured over 200 games in a variety of genres, and was 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. 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.
In early 2009, hi5 began to evolve from a social network into a gaming network. In order to join hi5, you must be 18 or older.
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. In 2010, it was ranked 37th in the world only among people who have the Alexa toolbar installed on their browser but only 84th in the US. In April 2015, the site's global Alexa rank was 2,069.
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 was 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.
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