PlanetAll was a social networking, calendaring, and address book site launched in November 1996. It was founded by a group of Harvard Business School and MIT graduates. Their company, Sage Enterprises, was based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was the winner of the 1996 New Business of the Year Award from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.
PlanetAll was possibly the first social networking site on the Internet. The site had more than 100,000 groups, organized around real-world counterparts such as academic institutions and employers. When the user entered the name of his or her university, the service would list the user’s classmates who were also members of the service. Users could exchange authorization to access the each others’ contacts. Many sites at the time offered web-based address books and calendars, but PlanetAll.com combined the two: when a user entered travel plans into the calendar, the service would cross-reference the destination with the address book, as well as the user’s contacts’ travel plans; the site would then notify users when they would cross paths with their contacts.
In August 1998, Amazon acquired PlanetAll in exchange for 800,000 shares.
Less than two years later, Amazon shut down PlanetAll. In July 2000, they told PlanetAll members, “We are pleased to announce that we have completed the integration of the key e-commerce related features of PlanetAll.com into our main site at Amazon.com… Although PlanetAll.com will be going away, you’ll still be able to enjoy some of the tools that help you keep in touch with like-minded folks.”
As one of the 1.5 million members I am quite upset by the loss of this great site. I hope Amazon (and others!) will not make a habit out of it to buy up great sites like these, strip them, and shut them down… 🙁