Many of the most popular sites like MySpace, YouTube and Facebook are mainly focusing on teenagers and people in their early 20s. But this is starting to change.
New web entrepreneurs are shifting their attention to a largely untapped market: the elderly. According to Nielsen/NetRatings the number of Internet users above 55 is roughly the same as those who are aged 18 to 34.
"Teens are tire kickers--they hang around, cost you money and then leave," said Paul Kedrosky, a venture capitalist and author of the blog "Infectious Greed." Where Friendster was once the hot spot, Facebook and MySpace now draw the crowds of young people online.
"The older demographic has a bunch of interesting characteristics," Kedrosky added, "not the least of which is that they hang around."
This prospective and relative stickiness is helping drive a wave of new investment into boomer and older-oriented social networking sites that offer like-minded (and like-aged) individuals discussion and dating forums, photo-sharing, news and commentary, and chatter about diet, fitness and health care.
Last week, VantagePoint Ventures, an early investor in MySpace, announced that it had led a $16.5 million round of financing for Multiply, a social networking site aimed at people who are settled.
In August, Shasta Ventures led a $4.8 million financing round for TeeBeeDee, a site coming out of its test stage this month. The name is short for "To Be Determined" (as in: just because you're not trolling for a mate on MySpace doesn't mean your life is over.)