By Steve Weinstein
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By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
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Despite Friendster's apparent popularity, CEO Abrams insists that making money is not his priorityat least not yet. He runs the five-person operation on a teenager's night-out budget. "We're trying to be really frugal. We're working out of our living rooms and apartments. I decided I wasn't really keen on raising money and getting a fancy office and spending tons of money." After the site graduates from its beta stage, he intends to keep membership free but begin charging for certain services like sending messages to Friendsters through the site.
What the network has going for it, says Friendster dater Harris, is that it is "insanely addictive." You can spend hours clicking around, cruising pictures and profiles. "I look at it every day, multiple times a day, like checking my e-mail," he says. In some circles, it seems to have replaced e-mail as a more convenient form of communication. The publisher James notes, "For a lot of us, [Friendster] is how we keep in touch. It's easier than e-mail" because you don't have to remember people's addressesjust click their pictures.
Perhaps the ultimate marker of success is that Friendster has already spawned two parody sites: Enemyster and Fiendster.
Users are also posting phony profiles of celebrities like Johnny Knoxville and Axl Rose. Ezekiel Lee, a/k/a Johnny Knoxville, explains, "I had been on Friendster for a couple of months and was getting kind of bored with it. It felt like I had hit a ceiling as far as how many new people I was meeting." So he decided to create a fake personality. "I have gotten more than one girl who actually thinks that I am the real Knoxville to send me naked photos of herself. I couldn't believe it. Here are these seemingly normal women who are sending me, some random guy, nude photos. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me."