When a god-forsaken parcel of frozen tundra was put up for sale by the Russians back in the mid-1800s, many saw the $7.2 million dollar acquisition as a frivolous venture that would reap no rewards for the U.S. History indicated otherwise. The same might be said about Microsoft and the recently leaked news of its covert social network under development.
Microsoft's project name for its venture into the social media space is as foreign to most as Alaska was to Americans back in the 19th Century. Tulalip (pronounced Tuh'-lay-lup) is actually the name of an Indian tribe of about 4,000, where 2,500 members reside on a 22,000-acre Indian Reservation located north of Everett and the Snohomish River and west of Marysville, Washington. The only conceivable connection to Microsoft is that this location is not far from the Big M's Redmond, Washington headquarters.
According to screenshots provided by Fusible.com, which first spotted the landing page at socl.com (before Microsoft removed it) it appears that Microsoft might be following the Google+ lead by creating a "sharing" network versus Facebook's social network model.
In that same report, J.B. at Fusible noted that the Web site social.com was acquired for $2.6 million on behalf of a mystery client. Shortly afterwards, according to a Whois record, it turned out Microsoft was indeed behind the purchase. Subsequently, the teaser landing page (as seen in the image above) was mistakenly revealed at socl.com - tipping the Internet giant's hand prematurely.
Matt McGee of Search Engine Land was able to question a Microsoft spokesperson regarding their intentions in creating yet another social network - and was told the following: "Microsoft has taken the site down and posted a message stating, 'Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest.'"
There were non-working links on the page that noted: “See how it works,” along with “terms of service” and “Privacy Statement” links. There were also Facebook and Twitter sign-in buttons. In fact, the Twitter sign-in/authorization page confirmed further that Tulalip was an “experimental app” developed by Microsoft Research.
So the question that surfaces: Is Microsoft reacting to the sudden popularity of Google+ and its own obvious omission from the playing field? With Bing having such solid working agreements with both Facebook and Twitter, it seems a bit odd that that it would risk straining those relationships.
But then again the Internet giant has sunk a lot of money into Bing, its search engine that still struggles to capture a fraction of Google's dominance of the Web. Will Microsoft champion another venture that proves to be "folly" or "fortuitous?" After all Alaska was a win-win for the U.S. - or was it? When one considers "one bridge to nowhere" and an ex-Governor that delivers 'fair and balanced' news, it gives one pause to wonder.