Angel investing opportunities in social network software

As part of a recent article Scott Allen and I wrote for Worth magazine, we did some research on angel investing opportunities in social network software. Although some of the hype around the social network arena has (fortunately) abated, there are a number of areas in the social software industry where we still see significant investing opportunities.

Some ideas follow:

* Companies that reengineer traditional business processes using social software. Accolo has created a unique technology to accelerate the recruiting process. Eloqua uses social software to make companies’ sales and marketing efforts more efficient. In particular, they help you figure out how to meet the right potential customers, and who they are. (My company, Nitron Advisors, is also an example of this trend. We are reengineering the traditional independent research process. )

* Identity management. FOAF (“Friend of a Friend”) is an open source personal identity management protocol which allows you to manage your identity and your relationships on multiple social networks. Broadband Mechanics is working on technology to help people in this area.

* Using “peer-to-peer” instead of centralized networks. Confidentiality is a major concern in social network systems because the user’s personal data is typically uploaded to a central location. WiredReach is in trials with a decentralized model that keeps the information protected on customers’ individual PCs.

* Blogging tools. Six Apart and LiveJournal are among the companies designing software that makes it easier for non-technical people to create a blog.

* Foreign-language versions of the successful business models. Social software is becoming prominent in the US but is just beginning to catch on abroad. Now may be the time to consider investing in such companies as OpenBC, which is comparable to Ecademy but available in English, German, and Spanish. eConozco.com is a Spanish-language site similar to LinkedIn.