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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2008
INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM MOSS, BLACK SOCIAL NETWORKING PIONEER
OH - Social networking is one of the most popular activities
online, next to emailing and blogging. It has the unique ability
of allowing users to interact with others as if they were in the
same room. Just how big is it? On a daily basis, an estimated
300 million people worldwide log into a social network.
are heavy social networkers and possibly the fastest growing group
in this segment. Many spend a lot of time on Myspace.com, Facebook.com
and Linkedin.com - as well as the Black social networks such as
BlackPlanet.com and HBCUconnect.com
the 34-year old CEO and founder of HBCU Connect, launched the
first social network for African Americans in 1999 - just a few
months before BlackPlanet.com came along. To date, HBCUconnect.com
is the largest online destination for Black college students and
William, what is your professional background?
a graduate of Hampton University, where I earned my Bachelors
degree in software development. I’ve been programming since
I was 13 years old.
Where is your company based, and how big is it?
A: We are
based in Columbus, Ohio with a staff of 12 people. We are located
in the same building as our strategic partner Diversity City Media.
Is it true that you created the first social network for African
A: Well, in
the late 90’s, the only mainstream social network that anyone
knew of was Classmates.com. There also was AsianAvenue.com, the
only ethnic-specific one - which was launched even earlier. There
were no others until we officially launched HBCUconnect.com (formerly
HBCU-Central.com) in June of 1999. According to Community Connect's
web site, they launched BlackPlanet.com in September of 1999.
How big is HBCUconnect.com?
A: We have
1.2 million registered members with over 15-20 million page views
a month. This makes us the largest online destination for Black
college students and alumni, hands down.
What makes you the king of Black social networking?
A: Well, I’m
modest – I don’t actually go around calling myself
that. However, I’ve done several speaking engagements, and
during a Q&A someone labeled me “a king of social networking”
after I answered a series of technical questions and related my
I do feel
that I’m a leader in the industry because I’ve been
developing and programming social networks for nearly 10 years.
I’ve done the technical work, the marketing, and I was able
to reach profitability to survive the dot com burst. I understand
social networks inside out; I was into this stuff before the term
“social networks” was even coined. They used to just
be called community-based sites.
So, what are you working on now?
A: Right now,
I’m building a white label social networking platform that
will be the best in the business. It’s called Connect Platform
(www.connectplatform.com), and for now we’re targeting Black
entrepreneurs, organizations, and businesses to help them create
their very own revenue-generating social networks.
To prove that
it works, we just recently launched several more social networks
What other social networks have you launched?
A: In partnership
with Diversity City Media, we’ve already launched over 15
different sites. The big ones are BlackHistory.com – an
online encyclopedia and social network for African American history
and culture, BlackWomenConnect.com – the first ever social
network for African American women, and BlackInAmerica.com –
the first ever social network for socially-conscious African Americans.
All of them are growing exponentially with thousands of active
members signing up daily.
also been tapped to do social networks for TV One, Real Men Cook,
October Gallery, Janet Jackson, Patti Labelle, Juanita Bynum,
Pepa from Salt-N-Pepa, and other bigger brands that I’m
not yet at liberty to discuss.
Some say that social networking is a waste of time. Is this true?
not. Every social network has a purpose. Professional social networks
help people advance their careers, and build client relationships
for their businesses. Other niche social networks allow people
with similar mindsets and interests to connect and build relationships
that make life online more fun. Social networking has the same
benefits that offline networking has.
What's the future for social networking?
A: The future
includes a smaller number of super-large social networks like
Facebook and Myspace. I believe there will be a major consolidation
of these. However, I also believe that there will be an ever-growing
number of smaller but powerful niche social networks. Users are
more attracted to networks for individuals that share the same
mind frame, background, and/or interests.
There's a rumor that you and Dante Lee of Diversity City Media
are getting ready to launch a Black dating site. Will this be
a social network too?
A: This site,
which I won’t name just yet, will be unlike any other dating
site on the Internet period. Not only will it be one of the few
that are Black-owned, but it will also be the first to include
the functionality of a social network. Look for this site to launch
in late 2008.
Are you in discussions with bigger companies to get bought out?
A: Yes, we
are approached all the time by major Black and non-Black owned
companies. However, none have been smart enough to make a quick
acquisition of our technology, experience, and brands. But we're
not too excited about selling now because the best is yet to come.
How can people contact you for business purposes?
A: They can
contact my business partner and publicist Dante Lee at 614-595-6063
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