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Defend Your Startup: Path

While Facebook increasingly feels like a public free-for-all, and the new Airtime encourages conversations with complete strangers, Path has been quietly building a smartphone-based social app that limits your connections to 150 friends. Do we really need another social network?

 Dave Morin, cofounder and CEO of Path, discusses how his social network is different, and more intimate, than the rest.  

Company: Path

Defender: Dave Morin, cofounder & CEO

SF: Can’t people do everything on Facebook that they could do on Path?

DM: Facebook builds the cities; we build the homes. Path is a safe place where you can trust that the things you share will only be shared with the people you’re connected to.

SF: But you can still connect with up to 150 people. How intimate is that?

DM: We started out limiting the circle to 50, but the average number of connections ended up around 10 or 15, and the resulting network wasn’t vibrant enough. With the 150 limit, the average is 40. Think of it like a party. When you invite people over, you don’t ask the number that could actually fit in the house—you invite less than that.

SF: Why do you think people want fewer online connections? Airtime seems to be betting that people want more.

DM: People like going home. It’s a personal, intimate space where they share life with their significant other and their closest friends. But they also love going out to bars and clubs and meeting new people. That’s the difference between Path and Airtime. Path is your home, and Airtime is the bar. 

SF: How about advertisers? Are you going to share users’ information with them?

DM: No. The web has always been more of a public medium, but the mobile phone is quite private, and we take that very seriously. We make money through selling virtual goods, like Instagram-style photo filters, which enhance the user’s experience.