February 11, 2010 / 4:43 PM / 10 years ago

Gay social networking site raises seed funding

SAN FRANCISCO (Private Equity Week) - Serial entrepreneur Jason Goldberg has developed a new social networking site aimed at gay men that he called a cross between Facebook and Yelp.

Jason Goldberg, CEO and Founder of fabulis.com, is pictured in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Handout

Goldberg, the founder and CEO of Fabulis http://www.fabulis.com, recently raised $625,000 in seed funding in anticipation of launching his new website this spring. Goldberg said he hopes the site, which is still in beta test mode, will become a brand synonymous with gay men and their love of “celebrating life.”

He said Fabulis will provide a place where gay men can go online to discuss and share places and cities to visit and reviews of what to see there, similar to a Yelp. Goldberg added the site will also include a location-sharing component, much like the social networking platforms of Foursquare or Gowalla, and provide Facebook-like connections among friends.

A deeper component of a gay man’s lifestyle is that friends of friends become like an extended part of your family, Goldberg said.

Goldberg, who previously founded tech companies Jobster and Socialmedian, came up with the idea for Fabulis while working in Europe. He said that when his boyfriend visited from the United States, they were unable to find many gay-centric activities online.

The sites he found were “representing 50-year old women, but not addressing my demographic,” he said. “I realized then that I needed to create a product that I wanted to use.”

Fabulis’s seed-funding round was led by The Washington Post Co. and various individual investors, some of whom previously backed Jobster and Socialmedian, which Goldberg sold to Xing last year.

The individual backers of Fabulis include Goldberg; Allen Morgan, venture partner of the Mayfield Fund; Don Baer, worldwide vice chairman of Burson-Marsteller; Lars Hinrichs, CEO of Xing; and three other undisclosed investors.

As for future rounds of investing, Goldberg said he will explore the possibilities. In the meantime, he will use recent funds toward product development and awareness.

Fabulis will need to compete with other social networks, such as Facebook, for user’s attention spans, admitted Goldberg. If his site can capture even a small percentage of gay men, who primarily use Facebook to interact, then Goldberg said his startup can succeed. Facebook just recently announced it had surpassed 400 million users worldwide.

Goldberg would not disclose whether the company will charge membership fees. The site will generate advertising revenue, but he said his plans do not rely solely on advertising. He said Fabulis will earn revenue immediately.

The company is already appealing to several college-age men through a viral user marketing campaign, asking future users to post videos about why they are “fabulis.”

In return for videos, the company is sending out T-shirts with the company logo. The younger users will drive Fabulis with their social-networking skills, Goldberg said, but added the site will cater to all gay men.

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