schoolFeed, a new classmate network launched by former RockYou CEO Lance Tokuda, announced a $1.7 million seed investment in a round of funding led by First Round Capital, with the participation of Crosslink Capital, InterWest, and SK Telecom.
Since schoolFeed launched in July 2011, the networking site dedicated to connecting high school classmates has gained over 7 million users, and their userbase is growing every second. The target crowd of schoolFeed are those aged 35-55 who didn’t have social networking sites “in their day” to keep them in touch.
“It’s amazing how many alumni have wanted to find old classmates. We’re creating over 15 new connections per second.” said Lance Tokuda, co-founder of schoolFeed. “There is a huge market for people that would really want to interact with old classmates. We are excited to offer them a network that meets their needs which is complimentary to Facebook’s social graph.”
- Find and connect with hundreds of old classmates in just one click
- Share an online yearbook with your graduating class
- Follow classmates based on interests
- Earn virtual currency as you engage with other users
And the best part about schoolFeed, apart from reconnecting with high school classmates, is that it’s free and it connects with Facebook. This leveraging of Facebook’s existing social graph has been key for schoolFeed’s growth, enabling a faster rate of expansion than even RockYou saw during its early days, and later as an initial supporter of the Facebook platform.
But as schoolFeed competes with the likes of Classmates.com more so than Facebook, the newcomer will have to utilize a different monetization scheme for a demographic well accustomed to paying out for direct connections on social networks. Tokuda thinks it’s high time direct monetization schemes were changed. schoolFeed will be using its fresh funds to build out new features, as well as its marketing efforts.
“With RockYou there wasn’t a clear way to monetize social media,” Tokuda explains. ”MySpace was big but advertisers didn’t want to advertise there initially. Now there’s a clear route for monetization on social media.
“We’re targeting the same people that often used RockYou–a lot of soccer moms, those that play social games. And even on the brand side, they’re valuable, with a lot of consumer brands targeting them as well, so we think it’s a good fit. We find that mature demographics have higher monetization rates–they’re the more nostalgic.”
One new feature schoolFeed will offer this mature demographic is event-planning, specifically for school reunions. They’ll also be building out their search functions, which are still relatively limited at this time. They’ve already dipped into the highly monetizable social gaming pool with a version of Bingo already engaging users on the site.