Launched in early 2012, FamilyLeaf is a social network just for families. Childhood friends Wesley Zhao and Ajay Mehta believe that FamilyLeaf will fill “the last big need in social networking.” With their own families spread out across the world, they realized that their lives were lacking meaningful connections with their distant family members. Keeping in touch through text and long email threads proved to be difficult and ineffective. They found it odd that modern social networking has done so much for our social and professional lives but neglected how we connect with our family. In 2011, the duo took leave from their respective universities and moved to San Francisco. There, they met co-founder Henry Liu through Y Combinator and the three started building FamilyLeaf together.
Zhao says people usually say the most important things in life for them are family, friends, and work. Facebook and LinkedIn have taken care of the latter two, respectively, but there remains a “huge vacuum” in the area of connecting families on social networks.
FamilyLeaf aims to address that gap, beginning with four main features. Users can create photo and video albums, communicate via the conversation board, and share “Tidbits” or little life moments. FamilyLeaf also has a family directory where each member’s birthday, email address, phone number, and other information are stored, and everyone can make sure it stays up to date. Of course, everything that’s shared on the site stays private and can only be seen by members of the family. In addition, a family history function is being considered.
FamilyLeaf hasn’t made any money yet, but the team plans to offer paid services like printing photo albums created by users. The site will not be employing targeted advertising à la Facebook. FamilyLeaf is still in beta but already has more than 10,000 users.