Multiply: Is There Room For Another Player In The Social Media Space?


Multiply bills itself as “Secure, Family-Friendly Media Sharing.” The site was launched in 2004 and currently boasts 13 million members, making it the third fastest growing social networking site in the US. Multiply launches version 4.0 of its web site on May 27 with the aim of bringing even more families and close friends into the fold.
Given the domination of the social media space by the likes of FaceBook (over 200 million active users), MySpace (over 125 million users) and the rapidly growing Twitter (now estimated to have exceeded 10 million users), the question is: how many social media sites can survive simultaneously, especially if there is some expectation that they eventually be profitable?

One way to stake out a space is to differentiate yourself and that’s the tact that Multiply seems to have adopted, and the reason for the site being scoped out by GeekDad. Rather than casual social networking, with 200 “friends” you probably couldn’t pick out of a police lineup all having access to your information, Multiply is taking a more family-centric approach. Granular account control lets users distinguish between family, friends, online acquaintances and professional contacts. Users have the ability to set the privacy levels for content, including photos and videos, on an individual basis. Family pictures can be shared only within family contacts for example, without other contacts having the capability of viewing them. That emphasis on photos is extended by an online editor sporting frequently needed tools such as red eye reduction, cropping and auto leveling. Original resolution photo and video files are maintained, so contacts don’t have to be content with viewing low quality versions.

Privacy and security are emphasized by the company as Multiply attempts to avoid the data mining accusations that have plagued other social networking sites.

The financials for FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter and other social media sites continue to be up in the air; while these sites are incredibly popular, the same can’t be said about their profitability. Some are still working out a plan for making money, while others rely on banner advertising revenues for the time being. Multiply takes a somewhat different route, selling services to members including a $19.95/year premium subscription option that includes automated media back-up (at full, original resolution), as well as various options for ordering printed photo products including prints, cards, calendars and photo books. Does anyone need media backup? Considering that the photos, movies and whatever are stored offsite in their original format and at full resolution, with minimal effort and for only twenty bucks a year, it seems like a reasonable proposition.

It could be that Multiply has found the formula that will cement it as the site of choice for those who want an effective and secure method of staying in touch with close friends and family; but like any social media site, a critical mass of users is needed to facilitate anything more than incremental growth. We’ll keep watching the statistics over the next few months to see if version 4.0 helps Multiply gain traction.

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