hi5 was once one of the most popular social networking sites in the world. While it does still operate to this day, the site has struggled to maintain its success from the mid-2000s. So, what happened to this once thriving site? And is there hope for the future? In this article, we delve further into the story of hi5.
First, we start at the beginning. In the first decade of the 2000s, a slew of social networks were set up, each with the hope of becoming what Facebook has now become to the world. hi5 was among these social networks to launch, being set up in 2004 by Ramu Yalamanchi. Prior to its launch, the site had attracted significant financial backing. As a result, there were high hopes from investors for the website. Furthermore, additional funding would arrive in the following years.
By 2007, hi5 was second only to Myspace in terms of the most popular social networks by number of users. By 2008, with Facebook slowly clawing market share away from other sites, hi5 were still able to hold steady – they were the third most popular social network. Yet by 2009, hi5 were struggling, in part due to the rise of more popular social networks such as Facebook and Bebo. Losing users and market share, it was clear that hi5 had to change. And so, the site opted to repackage their service as a social gaming platform.
hi5 weren’t the only social network who switched to gaming – Friendster opted for the same route. But while Friendster struggled, hi5 were able to adjust well. The site’s management worked hard to rebuild the site. This led to an acquisition in 2011 by Tagged – known as IF(WE) nowadays. hi5 were one of the few social networks to remain profitable in the 2008-2011 time frame, which coincided with the rapid rise in popularity of Facebook. Sites like Myspace and Bebo encountered significant losses.
The features of the website were originally similar to that of other social networks. Emphasis was put on the ‘5’ element of their name. Users were able to distribute a range of ‘fives’ – including crush fives, teammate fives and warrior fives to their friends. A network of friends could be built, while users each had an online profile that included information such as their age, hometown and general interests. Users were also able to upload photos, and create albums. As you see, all very similar features to that of other networks. This changed in line with the switch to a social gaming site.
In the modern era, hi5 continues to go strong. The site has returned to its social network roots. While Facebook puts the focus on keeping in touch with those you know, hi5 puts an emphasis on providing a platform to meet new people. hi5 use similar features to Tinder on their site – with users able to ‘like’ or ‘pass’ on potential connections. The site therefore does work in many ways like the quintessential dating site. The hi5 site is identical to the Tagged website. Together, the two sites have over 100m users registered.
While social media is dominated nowadays by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, hi5 was once a powerful social network. While it hasn’t been able to maintain that success, the site has worked hard to return to its heyday. After undergoing several changes down the years, the site appears to be heading on the right path. It will be interesting to see how the company progresses in the forthcoming years.