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Tired of Facebook? Meebo wants to be your friend

September 20, 2010 |  1:08 pm

Seth Sternberg Meebo With half a billion users and a big-budget Hollywood movie coming out, it's hard to think of a day when Facebook might be considered old school.

Instead of logging into Facebook or LinkedIn to get to your friends, why not take your online friends with you?  Seth Sternberg, the chief executive of Meebo, sees that as the next evolution of social networks. 

"Today, we communicate with our friends through Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare," Sternberg said. "Tomorrow, you'll be able to take your friends with you wherever you go on the Web."

To usher that day along, Meebo on Monday launched a BlackBerry app to mark its fifth anniversary. Sternberg founded the Mountain View, Calif., company in 2005 with two of his friends as a way to let people connect across disparate websites.

True, there's no shortage of ways to send messages on the Internet. But Sternberg and his pals, Sandy Jen and Elaine Wherry, wanted to make it easier for people to share the things they found on the Web via an instant messaging protocol.

The idea is to put all your social connections in one basket, instead of having users go to separate sites to access them.

Here's how it works: Websites such as All Things D, Maxim and Entertainment Weekly add Meebo buttons on their sites. By logging into Meebo, visitors can tap into their friends lists from multiple social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube, as well as instant messaging buddies on Google Talk, Yahoo and AOL Instant Messenger.

Through deals with 150 professionally produced sites and about 8,000 smaller sites, Meebo counted 63 million unique users in August, or about 30% of U.S. Internet users, according to comScore. That's less than half of Facebook, which had 148 million unique visitors last month.

But Sternberg believes his traffic will grow as users decide to "take their friends with them" as opposed to being trapped in today's popular but closed social networks.

-- Alex Pham
Twitter: @AlexPham

Photo: Seth Sternberg, chief executive and co-founder of Meebo. Credit: Meebo