A ‘Path’ less traveled

Social networks run most of our lives. Foursquare says where you are, Twitter expresses what you think, Instagram shows what you do and Facebook tells who you are. For the most part, all of these sites can do each other’s job.

Because social networking proves to be a thriving market for these “big ones,” I think it might be influencing some reckless behavior.

Path. If you don’t know what it is, you’re not missing out. If you do, you’re likely not using it. Path is a social networking app that pretty much does anything Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the like do, but it limits you to a friend list of 150. The idea here is sweet: You’re more inclined to share intimate moments with people who “matter most” to you rather than a massive audience. So that’s awkward for the distant family members who didn’t make the cut.

Really, the concept is, well, nice. But in reality, it’s just another means of social show-and-tell that we already have covered, rendering Path entirely useless. The app has been around since 2010, and it’s yet to catch on. Founder Dave Morin (previously employed by Facebook) had to lay off 20 percent of his staff in October 2013, yet fearlessly stands by his company. He claims it’s 20 million strong in terms of users — but to give that number a little perspective, remember that even MySpace has 36 million, and not even Pharrell could spark enough interest in the played-out site. Additionally, these numbers do account for inactive users.

One would think Morin might cut his losses and get out while he can, but alas, the ex-Facebook employee continues to kick himself while he’s down. It was recently reported that in his seemingly impossible search for an investor, Morin has agreed to do business with Bakrie. Seeing that most of Path’s users are located in Indonesia and Bakrie is an Indonesian company, it makes sense.

Except it doesn’t at all. The Bakrie Group has companies with a poor history of various financial discrepancies, but those mishaps sit pretty next to the ecological disaster caused by one of Bakrie’s own­: the drilling company Lapindo Brantas. It essentially resulted in a seven-year mudslide in Porong, Sidoarjo, East Java, that was attributed to The Bakrie Group. Suffice to say Indonesians aren’t wild about the firm.

In fact, many are so unnerved by the fact that Path jumped on board with this investor that once the news hit, Twitter users in Indonesia broke out with vows to rid their lives of the apparently useful app.

Although The Bakrie Group has not acquired Path in full, it still seems like a poor business decision to have this relationship with a company so widely mistrusted. But then again, who else would be willing to give the “meh” app a $25-million investment? I imagine Morin has a long, winding road ahead of him and might benefit from considering a new path.

 

Reach the columnist at Haley.Tonetti@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @haleytonetti