Friday, October 13, 2006


Over the summer, I was fortunate enough to represent Mashery at a variety of conferences and networking events. They were, in a word, an experience. Picture a gathering of genuine Silicon Valley nerds (yours truly included, of course) sprinkled with a few smooth talking VCs, prominent entrepreneurs, and generally crazy characters.

Two of the most memorable people I rubbed shoulders with would fall mostly into that last category, and I say that with nothing but love. At an event in San Francisco, I met Mike Basten and Zach Smith, a duo who had just launched a social networking site for families.

But here's the kicker: to promote the site, they went on a national tour in a '71 VW Bus. Literally, they threw some computer equipment and two mattresses in this van and set off across the country from Iowa.

How utterly awesome is that? As someone who considers entrepreneurship to run in his blood, I have an enormous amount of respect for the two of them. So when Mike called me the other day, it clicked that I should dedicate my next post to profiling MyKin, as I had promised a non big name one anyway.

So, As mentioned, it's basic concept is a social network for families. Today, MySpace (and now Facebook) offer a social slant that doesn't work well for families (the average kid probably wouldn't want family members to frequent their MySpace page).

MyKin's concept revolves around the connectedness that families usually share. MyKin gives families an online forum for communicating and sharing photos. The social networking aspects of the site are fairly typical (can set up families and family friends, send messages, etc.), but my two favorite parts of the site are the photo share and family tree. The first is very practical - families always have pictures they'd love to show their relatives in other parts of the country but don't always have a set way of doing so.

The family tree is really cool, despite an ambiguous functionality. For example, if you get your entire extended family on the site, the tree gives you a graphic view of how everyone is connected. Keeping track of or in touch with distant relatives becomes much easier.

Overall, MyKin's outlook is fairly rosy. The success of these sites is always a crap shoot, but I truly believe the idea behind it is fairly practical and helps families keep in touch. From a Web 2.0 framework, the site is fairly viral, as one family member will actively try to get his family on the site. However, word-of-mouth has a harder time working between families, as individuals probably won't try as hard to get non-family members on the site.

Anyway, its great to see the Valley spirit alive and well, especially when it's not in the Valley. Win or lose, a project like this is always great to see. Best of luck to Mike and Zach.


  1. Hello. I'm a reporter with the Des Moines Register, and I am writing an article about MyKin and its founders. I'd love to speak with you and get your opinion on the site.

    If you'd be willing to speak to me and could let me know the best time/way to contact you ASAP, that'd be great. My e-mail is kamcgint @


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