His network, Erly.com, launches on Wednesday and draws on the idea that people want to organize their experiences– weddings, bike rides, or vacations– around events themselves, rather than people who participate.
Critics may scoff that in a world saturated by services like Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s hard for another entrant to gain traction. Even Google has not yet matched those services’ popularity with its new Google+.
But Feng has found believers in Kleiner Perkins partners John Doerr, the venture-capitalist behind Amazon.com and Netscape, and Chi-Hua Chien, who are both serving on the nascent company’s board.
Kleiner is also backing the company financially, but Feng would not go into details, other than to say their support is less than $10 million. Feng worked for just a year at Kleiner, serving on its cleantech team.
Erly’s first product will be a smart photo album. It will allow for group photo-building and support extra content like videos and text. It will also draw on a user’s Facebook contacts to help find content, like more pictures, for each album.
Eventually, Feng said he plans to integrate other elements, such as a calendar function, to help build future products. If Erly knows a user is going to a baseball game, for example, it can start collecting stats about the teams, let users know which of their friends are planning to go, and make suggestions such as bringing an umbrella if rain is coming.
Erly will one day feature targeted advertising but for now is focusing on building up users rather than revenue.
“It’s about helping people never miss out,” Feng said.
Feng has enlisted Eugene Wei and Andrew Lin, the former heads of product and engineering from online video service Hulu, where Feng worked as chief technology officer before moving to Kleiner.
(By Sarah McBride; editing by Edwin Chan and Steve Orlofsky)