The venture, dubbed Flux, will be powered by Social Project, formerly known as TagWorld. MTV Networks in 2006 became a minority investor in TagWorld, also a social networking site, reportedly forking over $40 million.
TagWorld is also backed by venture capitalist firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. "DFJ continues to be an active investor and we are excited to be working with Viacom properties as well as other Internet properties to roll out the Flux platform," said Nate Mitchell, an analyst with DFJ.
The Internet has been inundated with social networking options of late, with MySpace and Facebook leading the pack. Viacom lost out to News Corp. in its bid to acquire MySpace, a disappointing defeat about which Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone was very vocal. Flux could be the next step in Viacom's social networking future, especially as the aging MTV unit struggles to stay relevant in the digital age.
"TagWorld was a traditional social network with lots of innovative features, but we realized that waging a feature war against walled garden social networks wasn't where we should be focusing our efforts," according to Friday blog post from the Social Project team. Social Project evolved out of a desire to "reach audiences outside of ... the TagWorld.com Web site."
When launched, Flux will allow users to add "community tools" to their Web sites and blogs. Several sites like Vinyl Pulse, The Plugg, popbytes, and Subterranean Blog already boast community sign-up options that urge readers to "Log in or sign up in Flux".
Registered users will eventually be able to create a personal profile like those found on MySpace or Facebook. The difference is that that when Flux users click over to outside Web sites that are also Flux members – like popbytes, Vinyl Pulse or Web sites powered by Viacom – that personal profile will also appear on those Flux member pages.
As a result, users will not have to sign up at each individual Web site, but rather log in to their Flux account and then add or delete Web sites and blogs to their list of communities as they go along.
No date for an official launch has been set, though users can already join the communities on sites boasting the Flux link. Social Project is "looking for music artists, influencer blogs, athletes, video content sites, pop culture lovers, or any Web site that is harnessing a creative community to produce original content," according to its blog.
The existing TagWorld site now includes a large banner announcing the impending launch of Flux. Current users are allowed to sign in and presumably navigate TagWorld, but clicking on the informational links at the bottom of the page – including the option to sign up for TagWorld – directs traffic back to the main Tagworld.com page.
Last month, MTV Networks dropped its Urge digital music offering to partner with Real Networks' Rhapsody service and create Rhapsody America, to create a single, digital platform for PCs, portable music devices and mobile phones.