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11/15/2010
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Photo Site Takes Different 'Path' To Social Networking

Path, launched by former Facebook and Napster executives, allows users to share photos with up to 50 contacts.

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Path debuted its photo sharing social networking site, which allows accountholders to share their world and day with up to 50 of their closest friends.

"Practically all of us carry a camera phone, and our photos tell the stories of our lives. Starting today, we hope that Path is the place you will always feel comfortable being yourself and sharing the story of your life with your closest friends and family via the photos you take every day with your mobile device," said Dave Morin, co-founder and CEO of start-up Path, in a blog. "Path is the personal network. A place to be yourself and share life with close friends and family. The personal network doesn't replace your existing social networks – it augments them."

Morin -- formerly Facebook senior platform manager -- teamed up with Napster founder Shawn Fanning to form Path, which, on Monday, launched a website and free iPhone app. Investors include actor and high-profile Tweeter Ashton Kutcher, as well as silicon Valley financiers Tim Draper and Tim Conway, Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff, and Dustin Moskovitz, a Harvard roommate of Mark Zuckerberg and one of several who helped found Facebook.

Unlike Facebook, however, which allows users to friend, follow, and share with up to 5,000 individuals, Path selected a cap of 50 friends. The company opted for 50 based on the research of Robin Dunbar, an Oxford professor of evolutionary psychology who suggested that 150 is the most social relationships a human brain can sustain at a given time. In addition, Dunbar's research suggests that 50 is the maximum number of people someone can trust and value simultaneously, according to Path.

"We'll help you find those close friends on Path, and we'll help you share with those who aren't yet on Path," Morin said. "No following, no friending... just sharing with the people who matter most."

The social media site includes a "See" button, which enables accountholders to view in real-time which friends have seen a particular site or event. Users can tag their pictures with people, places, or things.

"Because of the amount of context included in each moment on Path, we want to help you explore and understand both your memories and those of your close friends' in unique and interesting ways," said Morin. "We have started by helping you see moments on a map of the world. Expect more neat visualizations in the future from us."

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