Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Kara Visits iLike in Seattle!

On my recent trip to Seattle, I visited the offices of iLike in the Capitol Hill section of that lovely Pacific Northwest city to take a video gander at one of the more interesting start ups to emerge from the social-networking arena.

The music discovery site, unlike a lot of others in its sector, has been plugging away for several years with much less funding–about $16 million from the founding Partovi twin brothers, former AOL (TWX) wunderkind Bob Pittman and a big slug from Ticketmaster (IAC)–but with a lot more impact.

Like its competitors, such as Last.fm, it has forged its popularity by focusing on linking its users with one other and musical artists via what they like to listen to.

Kind of like that old shampoo cliché: She told two friends and she told two friends and so on and so on and so on.

It’s actually quite an infectious app and also Web site, with 30 million registered users, and it’s one of the few that is useful on social-networking sites like Facebook, hi5, Orkut and Bebo.

So useful, in fact, that Facebook has selected the service as one of only two “preferred” partners, a designation Facebook announced today at its second developers conference in San Francisco.

iLike was the brainchild of Ali and Hadi Partovi, longtime Web entrepreneurs who have also worked at big companies like Microsoft (MSFT), and whose interest in music and online delivery was the inspiration for the site.

To make money, iLike has a number of businesses.

First and foremost it is essentially a lead-generator for sites like Amazon (AMZN), iTunes, Ticketmaster, and more recently, the Rhapsody subscription music service, with which it just added a somewhat restricted full-song playback offering.

And iLike has just launched an ad platform for concert promoters.

The brand itself, although focused on music right now, obviously has extension possibilities (iLike movies? iLike TV? iLike tacky theme parks?).

Most observers of iLike assume it will sell to a larger entity eventually, such as Ticketmaster, for whom the site has become a major referrer.

But the Partovis–who have sold start ups before–insist they want to build the iLike brand.

Here’s a video interview with Hadi Partovi in which we talk about all this and more, along with a tour of iLike’s offices: