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
, 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.