Path Remains The Most Popular Social Network Nobody Understands


Path CEO Dave Morin admits some of the initial marketing push for Path could have gone a bit differently. The private social network has become the frequent butt of jokes in the tech community as a relative non-entity and an example of how not to “growth hack.” 

But to hear Morin talk about his company’s direction, you would think his company is on a fast path to the top. (Sorry, pun intended.)

Path now has five million daily active users, Morin said TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco on Wednesday. And one million people use the private messaging application, Path Talk, released in June, each day.

“As a company, I think we’re doing better than we ever have,” Morin said. 

Path’s success is centered largely in Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia, he said. And in a market crowded with other communication apps including WeChat and Line, Path, and now it’s separate app Path Talk, is going to have to differentiate itself enough to grow as large as its competitors.

Just like other social applications, Path is breaking up its services. Path Talk aims to be a new way for people to chat privately with each other, which users were initially able to do in the flagship Path app, but the reincarnation takes different features of other apps—ephemerality, media sharing, and ambient location—and puts them in one app. That makes sense for a social app built on a small, personal social network.

But where Path puts a wrench in the personal social experience is introducing Place Messaging, a business text customer service feature, thanks to its recent acquisition of TalkTo, a business messaging app. 

“The way we think about messaging in the future is not just about who you can message but what you can message,” Morin said. The business text feature is set to be released in the next update of Path Talk. “It enables you to text message any business in your life … and we have agents on the backend that see the text message, pick up the phone and call the business to get the information, and bring it back to you in under five minutes.”

It’s a sharp pivot for a company built around privately sharing personal social experiences and minimal life updates with friends. And whether or not people actually want to text businesses to find out information remains to be seen. (Of course, perhaps Comcast customers would want an option that doesn’t involve talking in circles.)

At least one company is reportedly in favor of Path’s current direction. A report from Pando says that Apple is in talks to acquire the social networking company. 

When asked about the acquisition rumor, Morin predictably said: “I don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

Lead image by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite.

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