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Grave Social Networking

(May 07, 2008)  Wired Magazine writer, Marty Graham, brings us the latest on Jeff Taylor.
Monster.com Founder Starts Social Networking Site for the Dead

Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor is furthering his goal of taking newspaper services online with Tribute.com, a website for the bereaved.

Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor helped you find a job, and helped ease you into middle age. Now he wants to help you build the last web page you'll ever need.

Tributes.com is scheduled for a soft launch in June. It aims to provide a central location to house online memorials for those who have passed on. It's starting with $4.3 million in funding, with The Wall Street Journal as a lead investor.

Taylor, who retired from Monster.com in 2005, says Monster was intended to take the jobs section of newspaper's classified ads online. So online obituaries seemed like an inevitable next step.

"I'm extremely bullish about this business -- it's not a question of if it will explode, but when," says Taylor, who spun the business off his baby boomer social networking site Eons.com. "I've watched and built a career on migrating the whole newspaper to the web, and the obituary section is the laggard category."

The site comes as the funeral industry is learning to target the public's desire to grieve online for the dearly departed. On social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, online memorials are springing up organically to give friends, family members and strangers a place to mourn, and even small, family-owned funeral homes have begin offering web-based memorials for their customers.

The site sets itself apart from memorial sites like SweetMemoriesSite.com, ChristianMemorials.com and PreciousMemoriesAndMore.com in two ways. First, people can find information on those who've died with a name search from a database that includes the entire Social Security Death Index since 1936. And second, the site plans to market more to the funeral industry than other sites, where individuals pay for tributes.

The venture competes squarely with the existing site Legacy.com, which uses Social Security death records and also picks up obituaries from 650 newspapers.1 Tributes.com will attempt to partner with funeral homes in an effort to cut newspapers out of the loop.

Tributes will allow people to verify deaths, get memorial service information, and leave tributes and messages.

"We are building a channel to the funeral industry to build our site with them, so we can be an aggregator for all the obituaries," said John Heald, a funeral director who is working with Tributes.com.  (Read More)
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