CyPop connects people through their common interests. (courtesy CyPop via USA Today)
San Francisco (written by Jon Swartz/USA Today) -- There's a new online site with Facebook in its sights.
CyPop, which made its debut in beta this week, connects people through their common interests rather than the virtual circles of friends and family that make up most social-networking sites.
During a month-long closed beta, more than 300,000 users tried CyPop, perusing user-created cafes for topics such as yoga and AMC's hit show, Breaking Bad.
CyPop's approach to online socializing should have as much appeal to brands trying to build customer loyalty as it does to consumers, says Glenn Walker, co-founder and CEO. (The other founders are Josie Baik and Eric Sheckler.)
"The cafe social-media platform in South Korea that I used for years seems to have a much higher level of ongoing engagement -- people don't get tired of it, because it is interest-based, constantly refreshes content and has a more intelligent level of discussion than many existing communities," Baik says.
CyPop is among several new specialized social networks or revamped brands, such as Myspace, that are attempting to slice into Facebook's huge customer base of more than 950 million members.
McCaw Cellular co-founder James Judson, a prominent venture capitalist in Seattle who has invested in CyPop, says it has a distinct "vision" to set it up for success among mobile users anywhere in the world.
Facebook is largely betting its future on its ability to attract mobile advertising.