Euro Social Networking Site Passado.com Set to Expand

A social networking site aimed at Europeans has secured 10 million euros (US$13.2 million) in venture capital funding and will formally launch a U.K. site in early 2007, along with others in Russia and Italy, the company said Tuesday.

Passado.com offers photo sharing in addition to blogging and personal website services. The site, run by Passado, is available in French, German, Spanish and English.

The funding round was led by Tudor Investment, part of the Tudor Group, based in Greenwich, Conn.

Passado said it’s different than other social networking sites because it targets an older crowd and brands itself more as a reunion service. Passado, started in 2001 and based in London, is aimed at reconnecting colleagues from school or work.

Passado claims 5 million registered users, though it’s difficult to determine how many are regular, consistent users of the service.

Another figure, however, shows growing momentum for the site. In October, Passado.com had 1.3 million unique visitors, up from 287,000 unique visitors from the same month a year before, according to the latest available statistics from ComScore Networks.

Passado faces a couple of other strong social networking sites that focus on reunions or professional contacts, said John Delaney, principal analyst at Ovum.

Friends Reunited claims 15 million users in the United Kingdom alone, while LinkedIn counts about 8 million users worldwide.

But the European market has up to 300 million potential users, which means there is plenty of room for other social networking sites to gain a foothold, Delaney said.

"Once [social networking sites] have a bit of momentum, it becomes quite easy to grow them," Delaney said. 

-Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service (London Bureau)

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