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Classmates IPO Least Likely to Succeed

Attention, fellow classmates of Skyline High School: If you want to contact me, use the email address above. It's free.

But Classmates.com is not. And that's the core problem with the imminent IPO from Classmates Media, the company running the popular alumni-tracking Web site.

I signed up for Classmates.com back in June 2000 -- when the term "social networking" referred to rooftop Bacchanalias. Back then, Classmates.com boasted 6.8 million registrants and vowed, "We are going to find them all, eventually."

Eventually is a long time. Only 128 members of my class have signed up, about one-fifth of the total, and nearly all have the barest profiles. Six of them have browsed my own minimalist profile over seven years (making me wonder if I wasn't a lonelier geek than I remember), and three have signed my guestbook.

I'll probably never know who those three are, because there's no reason for me to pay the subscription -- between $15 for three months and $59 for two years -- that's required in order for me to look at my guestbook and email other members. And if I send an email to any of them, they would have to buy a subscription to read it.

Classmates is pitching itself as the IPO equivalent of the poor man's Facebook, for people who can't wait to get in on the real thing.

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