Trendlines: New, Hot, Unexpected

In this issue: The impact a possible recession would have on VC funding; The battle between social networking sites; Security risks associated with remote workers; IT leaders continue to court Wall Street; and By The Numbers: New rules and benchmarks for virtualization management.

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Battle of the Social Networks

Social Networks Watch out, MySpace: Facebook may be gaining on you. MySpace may get more traffic but Facebook remains the fastest growing social network, according to a report from Hitwise last month. The report measured the market share of social networking sites by calculating how many "visits" they received in December versus the year before.

MySpace still leads when it comes to traffic, receiving 72 percent of overall U.S. Web traffic from the 10 largest social networks in December. Facebook came in second with 16 percent. But the report paints a mixed picture for MySpace. About 95 percent of its December visitors were return users who visited at least twice in the same 30 days, indicating user loyalty. MySpace users spend an average of 30 minutes there, a half-minute less than last year. Facebook trailed at 20 minutes, but that figure represents a nearly 10-minute increase for the site. Sites use those numbers to generate ad revenue.

MySpace also saw its growth rate shrink 8 percent; Facebook's jumped 51 percent over last year. AMR Research VP and Analyst Jonathan Yarmis says those numbers show Facebook has evolved from a collegiate phenomenon to engage a broader audience."The growth rate says it all," he says. "Facebook has seen a ton of growth from people not in the 20-something demographic." Yarmis says it will be interesting to see how MySpace and other social networks slow Facebook's growth. "What does everybody else do? Is OpenSocial the rallying platform that allows a combination of sites to deliver something competitive to Facebook? We'll have to see."

-C.G. Lynch

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