Social media, which now divides us, doesn’t have to, Hello founder Orkut Büyükkökten says


Büyükkökten, who started Google’s first social network, Orkut, says his new social app will help you make friends.

Conventional wisdom holds that technology, and our addictions to it, are making us more isolated. But Orkut Büyükkökten says that’s wrong: Tech can actually make friendships easier, and we just haven’t found the right app yet.

“My biggest passions in life are people and connecting people through technology,” Büyükkökten said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “If I look at society today, I believe that 99 percent of us need to connect more.”

Büyükkökten founded his first social network, Club Nexus, while he was a grad student at Stanford during the first dotcom boom. Its pre-Friendster success led him to Google, where he founded that company’s first social network, which was codenamed Eden but ultimately named after him, Orkut.

However, Orkut “wasn’t ready to scale at launch” and only took off in a handful of countries like Brazil and Estonia. Now having left Google, Büyükkökten is back with a new social startup called Hello Network, which promises to make it easier to find new friends.

“If you look at humanity, it’s a complex network with 7.4 billion individuals,” he said. “We have such a huge need to connect and connecting is getting harder and harder, even though there’s a lot of technology that should enable us to connect easier.”

The problem with today’s social media sites, Büyükkökten argued, is that they reduce people to “highlight reels” rather than encouraging them to be authentic with one another.

“I could have two friends who are about to get divorced, but they would post a picture on Facebook where they are having a picnic happily,” he said. “I know it’s not real, and everyone who’s looking at it thinks that it is.”

“We create trust within each other by sharing,” he added. “We need to be able to share our true selves, and that’s how we dissolve the walls between us that separate us.”

You can listen to Recode Decode in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

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