Vreebit is an immensely complex social-networking site, launched in beta on Thursday.
After seeing that it has taken Facebook five and a half years to become cash flow-positive, it seems that founders Michael Fleischmann and Chuck Donnelley are trying to create a new revenue model for their social network.
Vreebit includes a wealth of features, including a calendar, tasks, resume, docs and photos, links, discussions, polls, petitions, expert advice (think Yahoo Answers), and the ability to create your own 11-page Web site.
Upon signing up, users are given 100 "VreeBees," which are a virtual currency that can be used to buy actual goods on the site. You can earn more by participating in surveys, referring users, clicking on ads, and providing expert advice.
The VreeMarket offers a ton of things for users to buy with their VreeBees, ranging from books to video games to clothing. Not only can Vreebit post items for sale there, but actual users can post items as well, setting their price in VreeBees. This section of the site could also benefit from partnerships with some outside retailers.
VreeBees can also be used in exchange for services on the site, such as placing an advertisement, getting expert advice, and creating a survey. All of this activity creates an interesting economy on the site designed to motivate users to participate more.
The elements of this site that participate in the VreeBee economy seem to make sense, if the site can gain enough users. They are pretty unique and will drive more use of the service. However, other aspects of the site may greatly benefit from hook-ins with third-party services.
For example, instead of having to fill out your calendar on Vreebit (which doesn't sound overly appealing) the service could pull from Google Calendar for its content. And even though it is competing with Facebook, I think that Vreebit could benefit from using Facebook Connect, which can speed up account setup, automatically bringing in contact information and user data, as well as maintaining the same log-in.
Although Vreebit might be a bit crowded with not-so-enticing features, and users will likely be a bit wary of being rewarded specifically for clicking on ads (this will surely sink its ad rates through the floor), its virtual-currency model may have some potential.
With the addition of hook-ins for some third-party services, Vreebit may have a chance at becoming a viable social network, but for the moment, some users might be scared away by the amount of site features and the amount of time it takes to set up a new account--not to mention the fact that there's not much incentive to join a social network unless your friends are already there.