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paidContent - Founder Wagner, Others Bet On New Social-Networking App

This story was written by Joseph Tartakoff.

Now that there are so many social networks, the next challenge is helping users figure how to manage all their accounts. John Muse of leveraged-buyout fame, co-founder Todd Wagner, and Inktomi co-founder Bennie Bray, along with other investors, have put roughly $5 million in Nomee, a Plano, Texas-based startup that’s trying to make it easy for people to centrally manage their activity on multiple social networks.

“One of the things that happens is that people start following sites, not people. Ours is about following people, not sites,” CEO Kevin Mokarow tells us. The startup—which launched its Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) Air desktop app in April—is obviously not alone in its ambitions: Friendfeed, Tweetdeck and even the big portals think there’s an opening in the market. (Tie-ins with Facebook and MySpace were a major component of the recent Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) home-page redesign).

Nomee says it’s unique in that users can choose which updates they want to share with specific groups of contacts—useful for instance if someone wants to share LinkedIn updates with colleagues, but not Facebook updates. People can also receive instant updates on their desktop when someone they follow makes a change. The company has retooled the application since its debut—adding a new user interface—in response to feedback.

So far, 10,000 people have signed up for the application, Mokarow says. He says there has been strong interest among companies looking to distribute and manage updates via the service. For instance, Glassnote Music plans to deliver content about the label’s artists—like music videos and new blog posts—via Nomee. Nomee is planning to charge some firms that want to use the service and also runs some ads.

As with many startups, adoption remains a major problem, since it’s hard to get much out of the application unless your friends are using it too. Users create “cards,” which feature their updates on various sites, and then can follow the “cards” of other members. To make the service somewhat useful for newcomers, there are some pre-populated cards featuring celebrities and politicians.

Five million dollars seems like a lot for an app, but the investing team doesn’t specialize in small bets. Wagner and Mark Cuban sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999—and Wagner is now a co-owner of HDNet, 2929 Productions, and Magnolia Pictures, among other properties. Muse, meanwhile, is the chairman of HM Capital (previously known as Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst).

By Joseph Tartakoff

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