July 20 - The San Francisco-based startup Path has been in the spotlight since Facebook agreed to pay one billion dollars for the photo-shariing app Instagram, as both services focus on mobile. Matt Cowan reports.
Founded by Shawn Fanning of Napster fame and ex-Facebook executive Dave Morin, the mobile networking app Path has attracted a lot of attention of late. Like Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook for a cool billion dollars, Path is built for mobile. Like Facebook, it's treatment of personal data has raised privacy concerns. Morin, who's Path's CEO was forced to apologize earlier in the year after a user discovered the content's of his address book had been uploaded to Path's servers without permission. SOUNDBITE: Dave Morin, Path co-founder and CEO saying (English): "We changed it within 24 hours and deleted all the data we had collected through that method and even went further to say as we look forward to helping you connect to new people on the network, we're actually going to do this in an encrycted way." The snafu did little to dent the company's momentum. This spring Path announced it had raised over 30 million dollars in new funding. Richard Branson and Yuri Milner are just a couple of the big-name investors. The big idea? SOUNDBITE: Dave Morin, Path co-founder and CEO saying (English): "Path is what we call a personal network. We effectively have designed a new, more modern, mobile-only social network." The philosophy of the app is that people will have higher value communications if they're connect to only their good friends and family. Kevin Rose was an early investor. SOUNDBITE: Kevin Rose, Path Investor, saying (English): "I feel that a private and more intimate social network, it's not actually the opposite of social, it's just cutting down all the clutter and getting to this more intimate group you want to share with." Path actually restricts the number of connections a person can have to 150. SOUNDBITE: Dave Morin, Path co-founder and CEO saying (English): "Well, we actually believe that less is more at Path especially now that the Internet and social networks have become ubiquitous. And more information is being created now in a 48 hour period than was created in all of human history before the year 2000 and so there's actually more information floating around us than there's ever been before. We think that one of the key trends going forward is going to be around curation and higher quality, simpler experiences." Customizing the app for new international markets is one of the things Path is pushing most. SOUNDBITE: Dave Morin, Path co-founder and CEO saying (English): "You'll see us do a lot to deeply understand the culture of these countries and we'll probably even do things like changing the product. Not substantially, but we might do little things to make sure that Path really works well in different countries." It's unlikely Path's 3 million users will do much to unsettle Facebook, the world's largest social network which boasts a userbase of over 900 million users. But Path is making inroads in one key market, where Facebook remains blocked - China. SOUNDBITE: Dave Morin, Path co-founder and CEO saying (English): "I think part of it is we're very focussed on family and small groups of friends and this journal metaphor. It's a slightly different experience. A much more personal experience." The person pictured on Morin's screen is the famous German designer Dieter Rams who believed that good design was as little design as possible, or as he memorably put it 'less, but better'. Which is ultimately what they're shooting for here too. Matt Cowan, Reuters