There's a lot of hype around the potentially upcoming Google Circles, the fancy new social networking website by the search giant. But - as it turns out - Lycos tried exactly the same back in 2004. Judging by the number of people who know this, they failed.
From their press release at the time: "Lycos Circles gives users a one-stop shop for sharing things, discussing and staying in touch with their favorite circles of people," said David Kim, CEO of Lycos. "Lycos Circles helps you be more efficient at socializing and staying connected with family, friends and the groups you care about most." So i started thinking about how exactly does an idea become successful. It's not enough for a product to be useful because, if no one knows about it, it will never take off. It's also not enough to have hype around it, when it does nothing of what people need it to do. And - of course - timing is very important; we have to keep in mind that when Lycos tried this - in the end of 2004 - was the time when Facebook was starting to ramp up. And no one was worried about privacy issues back then, Facebook was God.
So i guess - in the end - success is a combination of timing, hype/connections, usefulness, and luck :)