Hello? Social networking's on the phone

You never know, Cash, Jesper Parnevik could be calling for a golfing buddy right now... or not.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: You know all about social networking websites like MySpace, but a new company called Ccube offers something different. Instead of letting you chat with strangers online, Ccube lets you call them. Our Cash Peters tried it out.


[ Phone message: Welcome to ccube.com. ]

Mahesh Lalwani: We're building a community where you can find and connect with the right person anywhere, anytime, on the phone.

Cash Peters: Wow! I . . . don't understand. That's Mahesh Lalwani of . . .

[ Phone message: ccube.com. ]

Exactly. Ccube.com, the worldwide social networking system that isn't quite worldwide yet. Hm, that could be their slogan!

So how does it work? I outsourced this question to Karun Tappar, Mahesh's colleague.

Karun Tappar: Let's say you're driving down Friday night from your work and you say 'well, tomorrow morning I want to go golfing.' But none of your friends are golfing but there's a world out there of people who might be interested in golfing, so you can use Ccube and find a golfing partner for yourself.

I see! It works for anything: If you need a plumber, or a date for tonight, or if you just want someone to explain Ccube to you again.

They find that someone, and connect you without giving your number out. It's like telemarketing in reverse.

[ Machine: Welcome to ccube.com main menu (BEEP) ]

Lalwani: They can just use their phone and call other people who share the same interests with them.

Rich Gosse: It's such a cold process to communicate with someone for the first time via an email message. So much warmer, so much more intimate, to be able to speak with somebody immediately, which is what Ccube does.

That's Rich Gosse. He runs Internet dating websites, and he thinks this is revolutionary.

It's like you're a candle and a bunch of moths are out there waiting to flutter around your flame, but only moths that have paid $7 for 250 minutes of talk time. So will it catch on?

[ Machine: Say yes or no. ]

Er, well, I don't know. It's up and running in the U.S. right now, but if Ccube's gonna work globally, doesn't everyone in the entire world have to subscribe to it first?

Gosse: The big challenge will be to go into a different language, like French or Spanish or . . .

Peters: I don't want French people calling me. I want a block on French people.

Gosse: Be careful, my last name Gosse is actually a French name, Gosse

Peters: That's why we will never speak again.

Gosse: We will never speak again.

And we never have. Mind you, I don't have Ccube, do I?

In San Francisco, I'm Cash Peters for Marketplace.

Machine: I didn't understand you.

Mar-ket-place!

Machine: (BEEP)

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