Dave Morin and Dustin Mierau are beating a path to a more intimate sort of social network, reports Tomio Geron in Forbes (9/23/13). Dave and Dustin are the co-founders of Path, a "mobile app for sharing your private life with an exclusive group of people. While big platforms like Facebook and Twitter are polluted with posts from advertisers, various media and that guy you haven’t spoken to since middle school, Path links you to the people you actually want to receive baby pictures from." It is the "intimate dinner party" versus "the noisy megaclub."
The idea for Path was hatched during a conversation between Dave, Dustin and Napster founder Shawn Fanning: "the three discussed how social networks were becoming cold, isolated places instead of places to bring people together." Path’s smaller scale does present its obstacles, however. After two years, it had just 3 million members (compared to Instagram, which amassed roughly 30 million in a similar timeframe). This was remedied by allowing users to use Gmail and direct messages on Twitter to "spread their Path profiles." Path now has 20 million users.
Path’s "no ads" policy is another hurdle. "By swearing off ads, it’s having to turn to selling virtual goods such as emoticonlike ‘stickers’ and photo filters." It is also planning "to roll out a premium subscription service … that gives users special content, features and storage." However, "Path has proved sticky, with active users checking the app an average of 19 times a day. The typical active Path user spends 20 minutes a day on the app, compared with 17 minutes for Facebook and 3 for Pinterest." Dave Morin is biding his time: "We made this choice to swim against the current culture and commit to thinking for the long term," he says.