Whoever calls out for the drum rolls must have been living in Vanuatu for the past decade. The winner to this list is probably one of the answers least needed to be told, but that is perhaps also one of the silliest assumption to have! For some of you would think you might have been on the button, read on before you curse and swear at the next pub quiz.








Here we go, in descending order, the 15 biggest virtual communities in the world (by user accounts).

15. LinkedIn (USA, 2003) | 100+ million (Mar ’11) | Alexa Global Rank: 13

Launched in mid-2003, the networking site is modern-day human resource Yellow Pages, allowing individuals to upload their contacts and career-log for companies in the world to headhunt them – including the CEO, Jeff Weiner who himself leads by example.



14. Bebo (USA, 2005) | 117 million (Jul ’10) | Alexa Global Rank: 2,249

The junior version of Facebook had about 40 million users back in 2008. Today, the number of sign-ups is about to be tripled. What can I say? Teens unite? Maybe that’s the main reason why I never rub shoulders with this because if I facebook, why do I have to bebo? To rub salt into the wound, AOL planned to terminate or liquidise Bebo in April 2010 and the BBC reported the purchase of Bebo was “one of the worst deals ever made in the dotcom era”. Told you, not everyone’s as cool as Zuckerberg.


13. Orkut (Brazil, 2004) | 120+ million (Aug ’10) | Alexa Global Rank: 103

Awkward, I would say, if I never had typed in The Most Stylish Teacher in the World, I wouldn’t know Google had planted another seed which seems to have grown pretty well in the Southern Hemisphere from Brazil to India! Orkut is ranked 11 in Brazil according to Alexa, and more recently, a media survey showed that the web community has expanded into Estonia! Whatever the guys at Orkut are doing, bom trabalho (good job in Portuguese), exploring unexplored lands is the new old way of sustaining media entities these days! Even Del Boy knows the pie today ain’t no bigger than yesterday’s!


12. Badoo (UK & Cyprus, 2006) | 121+ million (Jul ’11) | Alexa Global Rank: 117

I just scratched my head, I’ve heard Baidu and voodoo so…? I admit, all along I thought my cerebrum was plugged into the server, but it’s a dial-up I’m attached to. Now that I F5-ed myself, so Badoo +1 to the social matrix, (beginning to like the word, sound like a name of a tribe), the online networking site is also well-received in South America and West Europe (i.e. Spain). It is fairly popular in France since it was ranked 52nd as the most popular site, but be reminded that this site had security issues in the past, so it was said by Web of Trust, a web rating tool.


11. Vkontakte (Russia) | 135+ million (Feb ’11) | Alexa Global Rank: 42

Originally in Russian, Vkontakte (meaning In Touch) is now available in 67 languages and is widely used in other neighbouring countries of Russia, including Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Also known as Vk, it features torrent filesharing technology which allows ‘seeders’ to upload large files, now this is something capitalists will not even think about it, eh?


10. Sina Weibo (China) | 140+ million (May ’11) | Alexa Global Rank: 44

This is China’s solution for not having Twitter or rather a hybrid of Facebook and the microblogging service. Launched only for about two years ago,Weibo already commands 56.5% of the microblogging business in China. Likewise, you expect all the Chinese celebrities and companies to connect like what they see their Western counterparts are doing on Twiter. Weibo is also available across almost every known consumer devices including iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Windows.


9. Skype (Estonia, 2003) | 145 million (Mar ’10) | Alexa Global Rank: 175

To be honest, Skype has performed over expectations over these years. It managed to grow and sustain its internet and voice telephony services and at the same time, to combat the dozen others which sprouted suddenly over the age of media convergence. From its modest beginning to flotation speculation and then finally, eight years since its creation, the company has seen the transition of several major stakeholders from eBay to Microsoft. Earlier this year, Skype also acquired Qik, a mobile video sharing utility.


8. Gmail (USA, 2004) | 193.3 million (Nov ’10) | Alexa Global Rank: 23,307






Andrew is busy now, you may be interrupting.







7. Twitter (USA) | 200 million (Jan’ 11) | Alexa Global Rank: 9

Microblogging service.  Self-explanatory, I suppose.







6. Habbo (Worldwide) | 203 million (Feb ’11) | Alexa Global Rank: 12,545

Previously known as Haboo Hotel, this social networking project started in 2000 when Finnish creatives and English entrepreneur Dee Edwards joined forces to launch virtual ‘hotels’, targeted at teenagers. In these hotels, users choose their own avatars and gain access to ‘rooms’ where users are able to chat and play in-house games such as Snowball. Within months, the site was a hit and took off in 31 countries. However, in Jan 2010, all English-speaking Hotels begin to merge and six months later, Habbo.com remains the only English site.


5. Windows Live Messenger (USA) | 330+ million (Jun ’09) | Alexa Global Rank: 8


I’ll let you fill in the blanks.












4. Netease (China) | 360 million (May ’11) | Alexa Global Rank: 3,740

Popular web portal in China burgeoned since its launch in 1997 when the region suffered economic crisis, Netease’s investment in search engine technology paid off and its MMORPG, Fantasy Westward Journey is a true zeitgeist, unlike others that have long ago witnessed the sunset.





3. Qzone (China) | 480 million (Mar ’11) | Alexa Global Rank:  see Tencent QQ

Launched in 2005, Qzone is what you get when you compound WordPress with We7! Qzone users are also vigorous, 150 million users update their accounts at least once a month, making Qzone one of the most lively communities in the whole industry!




2. Tencent QQ (China) | 636 million (Nov ’10) | Alexa Global Rank: 10

QQ is MSN’s nemesis in China. Competition between the rivals is so stiff that both applications are so comparable even in sub-features! QQ also ventured overseas since 2008 and has replicated its service in Italy called QQITALY. At this rate, I would not be surprised one day China’s very own social networking site overtakes Facebook in becoming the biggest virtual community.









1. FACEBOOK (USA) | 750 million (Jul ’11) | Alexa Global Rank: 2

One out of nine on this planet is on Facebook. Enough said.












Sources: Alexa Traffic Rank: See how popular a website is | www.alexa.com


3 Responses

  1. Sinem

    Wow, some cool stuff here, Andrew. ‘Not everyone’s cool as Zuckerberg.’ Classic! lol

  2. Tosin

    Amazing seeing how far China has come and how they have effectively utilised their numbers…Nigeria needs to do the same!


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