The Truth About Evite
May 16, 2007
This guy wants to overcharge you
for concert tickets and sue people:
This guy wants to write code
and help people party:
For several years, millions of people have used Evite to send out party invitations.
But why hasn't the site improved in such a long time?
History of Evite
Evite was a cool Silicon Valley startup when it was founded way back in 1998. After the dot-com crash,
it was acquired by
in 2001 for less than the $38 million in
venture capital that Evite had raised.
IAC is a huge Internet conglomerate
run by mogul Barry Diller and worth over $10 Billion.
IAC owns over 60 businesses, including Ask Jeeves, Citysearch, CollegeHumor, Expedia, Hotels.com,
HotWire, HSN, Lending Tree, Match.com, and TicketMaster
in addition to Evite. Not surprisingly,
after buying Ask Jeeves for $1.85 billion,
Evite is not the top focus of IAC management.
After acquiring Evite six years ago, IAC moved it down to the LA office of Citysearch and TicketMaster,
and the site has languished ever since.
Evite "mimics" Friendster in 2003
In November 2003, around nine months after Friendster launched,
that it had built "Evite 2.0",
to compete with Friendster. "Evite 2.0 ... will mimic social networking sites, such as
Friendster, with the introduction of personal profiles, called 'My Info' pages, and bulletin board messages.
This new version of Evite (Evite 2.0) will then become a close competitor to
Friendster, Craigslist, Emode, Meetup, etc." Evite said in a statement.
PC World wrote
"Social networking site Friendster.com may have a lot of friends, but now it has a new rival.
Evite, a site created to allow Internet users to send out electronic invitations for events, launched a beta
service Thursday that aims to take on Friendster by adding user information pages and 'get together' tools."
In reality, Evite's poorly conceived and integrated 'social networking' features consisted of little more
than useless profile pages that few Evite users completed.
In the three years since this failed attempt to graft on social networking features to Evite,
the site has rolled out a small number of tangential new 'features' such as drink estimators,
party tips and carpool planning while failing to add real social networking, leverage new
technologies such as video, IM or mobile phones, or fix the many annoying little flaws that
Evite has had for years.
In 2005, Friendster hired a new CEO and a product manager from Citysearch and Evite. Neither of them
stayed at Friendster very long,
but paranoid IAC executives had their lawyers send nastygrams to Friendster and these employees
demanding information about their former employees' involvement in a non-existent Friendster online
Evite's lawyers demanded a written statement that Friendster would never develop a product competitive to
Evite's invitation service, as well as a copy of Friendster's product roadmap!
Ironically, while Friendster had no such plans, it was around this time that I
had decided to move on from Friendster and start a new company to develop a new service combining event
invitations with social networking. As was documented in Harvard Business School's 2006
case study on
Friendster, it was a long but frustrated desire of mine to build events functionality at Friendster.
TicketMaster/Evite threatens to sue Socializr – Why is IAC is afraid of a three-person startup?
On April 3, 2007, Ticketmaster/Evite threatened to sue Socializr for copyright infringement.
Once again, as with the letter sent to Friendster in 2005, Evite/IAC seemed to prefer to attempt to
block competition with lawyers instead of improving and updating their products.
The Socializr team was very flattered that a multi-billion dollar company like IAC was so scared of our little company.
Evite's lawyer letter claimed that:
- Two Socializr users had uploaded images allegedly infringing upon Evite's copyrights.
(Unlike Evite, Socializr allows users to create and share their own design templates.)
One of these images was no longer on the site, and Socializr immediately removed the other after being
notified of the infringement,
as required by the
Copyright Act's Safe Harbor provisions, which protect Socializr from liability.
- The letter from Ticketmaster's lawyers claimed that an image in one of Socializr's event designs featuring snowflakes is too
similar to an Evite design that includes a different piece of artwork that also contains snowflakes.
- The letter also
claimed that Socializr infringes upon Evite's copyrights due to similarities in website look and feel.
Evite owns the copyright on snowflakes?
One of the most ridiculous claims in Ticketmaster's lawyer letter involved two "Winter" themed designs on each site.
Both designs feature artwork involving white snowflakes on a blue background. Does Evite/IAC think it owns the
copyright on the snowflake? Do their lawyers not understand the basic principles of copyright law,
that copyright covers a distinct "original work of authorship", not similar but different pieces of artwork, and
that there is no copyright protection for familiar symbols or designs, lettering or coloring?
To make this claim even more ridiculous, it turns out that Evite does not even own the snowflake image on their site. It is "Photodisc"
clip-art, available for purchase from many web sites for $89.99.
Look and Feel is not protected by copyright
Evite's lawyer letter also made five claims involving look and feel. Obviously IAC is not happy to see Socializr
compete with Evite and offer an alternative to Evite. Not only did they fail to delineate the purported similarities in
"format, layout and features" between the two sites, but once again Evite's lawyers seem to be oblivious to the
relevant ideas/expression, merger, scenes of faire or originality doctrines which prevent the protection of common
ideas such as generic or indispensable functionality and uncreative layout and formatting
involving limited means of expression. The inability to protect generic functionality and basic user interface layout
and design was well established over ten years ago in landmark cases involving Apple, Microsoft, and Lotus.
If websites could sue other websites for copying their look and feel, Friendster would surely have done so
back in 2003 and 2004 when it was blatantly copied by MySpace, Facebook, and over 100 other sites.
In the words of Jason Calacanis, from posts back in 2003,
"MySpace.com, a literal photocopy of the Friendster site, is actually a service provided by the NASDAQ-delisted eUniverse.com"
"Perhaps they're embarrassed by the fact that they literally photocopied the Friendster.com site?
We're not lawyers, and we certainly don't think that anyone should be able to file silly business process patents, but MySpace.com is a straight up rip off."
But websites get copied all the time:
Gee Whiz, The New AOL Beta Looks Familiar
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
Exposed: The 7 Most Blatant Web 2.0 Rip Offs
Socializr is not even a simple rip-off of Evite like some of the examples above. Socializr has a completely different
approach and philosophy for sharing with friends, user-generated content, organizations, and integration with other services.
Socializr has many modern features that Evite lacks and differs from Evite
in many ways. The similarities between Evite and Socializr involve generic or inevitable functionality that is essential
to online event invitations. Much of this functionality and standard user-interface elements
(such as a guestlist, RSVP box, etc.) have been offered by numerous sites such as Meetup, Upcoming.org, MySpace, and Facebook
for years before Socializr even existed.
Evite the hypocrite
As Valleywag's May 3, 2007 "Hypocrisy Alert"
pointed out, Evite's baseless claims also seem quite hypocritical and ironic when you remember Evite's
2003 that they were going to "mimic" Friendster.
Also, in an December 2006 interview with John Battelle,
an IAC executive admits that they crawl and copy content from other sites such as
IAC the bully?
On April 20, 2007, Ticketmaster
sued popular online marketplace StubHub
for interfering with Ticketmaster's business by
selling tickets for the Lynyrd Skynyrd/Hank Williams Jr. "Rowdy Frynds" tour, which Ticketmaster claims exclusive rights to
Once again, IAC resorted to lawyers instead of improving their products. Obviously, IAC wishes that new companies
such as Friendster, Socializr, and StubHub would just go away. Do they really think they can bully all of Web 2.0 out
of existence with lawsuits and lawyer letters?
Why people hate Evite
Evite's failure to improve their product or capitalize on the potential of social networking
(despite being a sister company to Match.com, Citysearch, and TicketMaster) has been puzzling to many people.
Before he even invested in Socializr, my friend and entrepreneur Auren Hoffman wrote a blog post in January 2006
"Evite is incredibly mismanaged",
pointing out that Evite had great potential but had not improved for six years.
Later Auren wrote a guest column for VentureBeat in September 2006 called
"Why I hate Evite",
an uproar due to Auren's potential bias as an investor in Socializr, even though he disclosed his investment
in his column. Auren pointed out that Evite is very slow, that Evite's profiles are not well used, and that
Evite has never adopted new technologies such as RSS and SMS. Unfortunately, this column appeared months before
Socializr had launched, and readers were unable to judge for themselves.
And Auren is not the only one who feels this way:
OK, so with that all said, here are our Top Ten Reasons Why It's Time For You To Switch To
- In October 2006, venture capitalist Stewart Alsop, who is
not an investor in Socializr, wrote a post on his blog titled
"Please make a new Evite!"
saying "I can't believe how bad Evite is as a Web application"
and pointing out yet again that Evite lacks integration with modern technologies and services, and has not improved
- In February 2007, blogger Robert Scoble wrote a post called
"The 'evite' killer?" saying
"I hate evites. Here's why. ... The evite email that I have doesn't have any information on it. It doesn't tell me
where the party is. It doesn't tell me when it starts. It forces me to click over to the Web site to look at all that
info. I really, really hate that..."
On May 14, 2007, Valleywag listed Evite as #1 in their list of
Companies We All Hate:
"Why it sucks: The invitation e-mails don't contain the info for the event! Gah! And the page everyone clicks to is choked with ads."
1. Barry Diller doesn't care about Evite
IAC owns over 60 business and has not really improved Evite in five years.
The Socializr team is obsessively focused and committed to creating the best site ever
for sharing events with your friends. In one year of development, our small team has
duplicated Evite's functionality on a scalable platform and added many new features.
We welcome you to share your feedback and suggestions with us in our
Forums so that
we can continue to improve Socializr month after month.
2. Pet peeves
Everyone has their own pet peeves about Evite. Maybe it's the way Evite doesn't tell you anything
in their emails and you are forced to click through just to see the event date and location. Maybe
it's the way you often cannot tell who sent you an invitation...
We've fixed dozens of these annoyances already, and we would love to fix yours too.
Tell us all about it in our Forums.
Evite is slow!
According to Alexa:
Speed: Slow (68% of sites are faster)
Avg Load Time: 3.2 Seconds
According to Alexa:
Speed: Very Fast (87% of sites are slower)
Avg Load Time: .9 Seconds
Socializr is committed to keeping page loads under 1 second.
4. Event customization
Evite allows you to choose from a set of professionally designed templates for your event invitation,
or design your own invitation with the colors and graphics of your choice.
Socializr also provides
professionally designed templates, but Socializr allows users to share their user-generated designs
with their friends or other Socializr users, and Socializr allows you to customize your event with
music, videos, custom images, Flash widgets, and deluxe fonts!
5. Social Networking
attempts to add social networking features
in 2003 were a complete failure.
Evite's profiles are not useful, not well integrated into their site, and not completed
by most Evite users.
Socializr allows you to easily share your events with your friends
in various ways. You also get to see your friends' birthdays on your Socializr calendar.
Socializr shows the photos of people on a guest list right on the event page, like a modern
social networking site. Each Socializr user has their own profile page with a personalized
URL, and our users can automatically add their content from Friendster, MySpace, Flickr,
YouTube, Yelp, Twitter, blogs, etc. to their Socializr profile.
Evite does not cater to the needs of organizations that throw events, and limits the number
of people that can be invited to an event.
Socializr allows organizations that throw events,
such as bands, club promoters, non-profits, etc. to create their own organization page, with
their own custom subdomain, events listings, RSS feeds, embeddable Flash widgets, and more.
Evite doesn't offer technologies from this decade.
Socializr provides several mobile features including mobile reminders and a text-messaging interface.
8. Your Information
Evite does not allow you to export your Address Book.
Socializr allows you to import address books
from various sources but also export your information, including your Address Book, at any time.
9. Unwanted email
Evite allows you to block invitations from a specific person.
Socializr allows you to block invitations from a specific person or block ALL emails from Socializr
via our global blacklist. We think choosing to add yourself to this blacklist is a stupid move, since you will
probably miss out on cool party invitations from your friends, but we want to be good citizens of
the net and respect peoples' choices about what kind of emails they wish to receive. We also provide
our members with numerous notification preferences. For example, we allow our members to specify what
type of event reminders they wish to receive, instead of letting the event creator solely specify the scheduling
of the reminders.
Evite is a mess of invasive graphical ads.
Socializr is focusing on a small number of targeted text ads which are much less annoying.
Update (July 11, 2007):
Time Magazine lists Evite as the #2 "Site to Avoid" in their new list of the 5 Worst Websites.
Update (October 18, 2007):
Valleywag reports in What to use instead of Evite (and five other popular but terrible websites):
"Oh god, Evite. It starts with an email about a party with no information about that party, and then it gets worse.
... I'm using Socializr for my next party."
Update (Jan 18, 2008):
Wired Magazine's February 2008 issue has an article called Why Things Suck: Evite:
"Evite is great if you're gonna party like it's 1999 –
because that's where the site has been stuck for nearly a decade.
To announce your next high-stakes Scrabble tourney, try Socializr, brought to you by Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams. It's Evite 2.0, finally."
Update (April 7, 2008):
Two new resources:
Update (April 8, 2008):
Radar Magazine has written a Public Service Announcement – Stop Using Evite!:
"You are not alone in thinking Evite, the incredibly outdated invitation service your one pitiable friend still insists on using ...
is one of the worst sites on the Internet.
In short, not only does Evite suck, but it's regulated by a bunch of asshole corporate overlords.
Let the non-Evite party revolution begin!"
Update (April 13, 2008):
The New York Times Magazine has written yet another critique of Evite:
The Guest-Host Industrial Complex:
"Barry Diller is wrecking parties. I may never be invited anywhere ever again, but I must speak out against Evite,
his company, for stamping a hideous brand on hospitality.
I have to repeat what tech and business analysts have said for years in their analyses of Evite:
it's appalling that to learn the time and place of a private party, an Evitee has to visit a commercial page stacked with ads."
Update (September 9, 2008):
Evite buys Google ads to compete with Socializr?
Update (Dec 10, 2008):
Oprah Magazine's December issue recommends Socializr over Evite in an article called Party, On! New Gadgets to Help you Plan a 21st-Century Bash
"Though Evite is ubiquitous, don't count out the competition. BlackBerry users will like Socializr.com because
its e-mails include all the party details - no link-clicking required. And you can add music or video to the hundreds
of invitation palettes on offer."
Update (Dec 31, 2008):
VentureBeat reports in Evite fails on the year's biggest party night
that "No one cool uses Evite anymore.
You know this. I know this. Auren Hoffman, chief executive of search startup RapLeaf and an investor in competitor
Socializr, wrote a column for us two years ago about why he hates Evite. But it's still the biggest event website around.
Well, we can add another item to Hoffman's litany of complaints - Evite is down on New Year's Eve. That's right,
it's down on the biggest party night of the year, meaning the event details stored on the site are now inaccessible
Update (Jan 22, 2009):
The Bivings Report writes in Socializr Succeeds Evite,
"Dear Evite, We're breaking up. It's not me; it's you. And I've found someone better. Her name is Socializr.
I'm far from the first person to write about this phenomenon, but I'm here to recommend what I have found to be a far better product: Socializr.
Evite is slow, outdated, ad-laden, myopic, and generally seems to hate its own users.
Luckily, I have a housewarming party coming up, and I took the time to research alternatives. I fell head-over-heals in love with Socializr.
As much as it may pain the companies to have their names in the same sentence: it is Evite 2.0.
Please give Socializr a try when you are planning your next social gathering. I promise you that you won't be disappointed."
Update (Mar 5, 2009):
EviteSucks.com now integrates a live feed of "What people are saying about Evite right now" courtesy of the Twitter Search API.
Update (Apr 22, 2009):
peHUB writes in The Latest Salvo In Jonathan Abrams' War Against Evite
that they hope Socializr gains ground on Evite because Socializr's "offering really is far superior" and
"it's clear Abrams has developed a sense of humor about the seemingly intractable Goliath he still faces.
Among the growing assembly of URLs he owns is evitesucks.com and, now, evitealternatives.com -
destinations that respectively list, yes, links to stories and blogs dedicated to why Evite sucks,
and alternatives to Evite."
Update (June 29, 2009):
CollegeHumor's funny new "Web Site Story" video contains the line
"I hate Evite."
Update (July 22, 2009):
One year after announcing a new version of Evite that never actually launched,
paidContent reports that Evite's owner IAC has laid off 9 Evite employees
and fired their General Manager.
Update (Dec 16, 2009):
The New York Times writes in Inviting Web Sites for Party Planners,
"Mr. Seacrest seems poised to be the Dick Clark of this century, enjoying a long and ageless tenure over Times Square.
Evite, however, does not display similar staying power. It was once both innovative and indispensable,
but since being bought by IAC/InterActiveCorp in 2001, Evite has more or less been left to languish.
... drawing detractors might be the capacity in which Evite is most competent."
"SOCIALIZR.COM – Started by the Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams, Socializr brings a social-media mentality
to the arena. Users' profile information from sites like Facebook, MySpace and Flickr can be aggregated,
as can the information in one's address book. Users can see the events their friends are attending,
and can promote events virally through friends of guests.
Custom layouts include a wide variety of fonts and unique images in each template; text can be integrated atop
certain images for additional customization. A comprehensive song
library offers abundant options for automatic play when the invitation opens."
Update (March 19, 2010):
The New York Times writes in They're Not Waiting for an Invitation to Evite's Party,
"Evite, which was founded in 1998 and acquired in 2001 by IAC, has been around since Web 1.0 days.
That's eons in Internet time. It hasn't tinkered much with its original proposition: to offer a free service that is supported primarily with banner ads.
A typical Evite page displays a long, horizontal banner ad along the top and a square display ad on the lower right.
Compared with pop-up ads, these are not particularly intrusive. But they are viewed mostly by a captive audience:
the invitees who must go to Evite's site to send an R.S.V.P.
This has provoked the ire of Evite's critics and inspired entrepreneurs to offer advertising-free alternatives,
like Socializr and Anyvite, both of which are also offered at no cost to their users.
Jonathan Abrams, Socializr's founder, maintains a second Web site, EviteAlternatives that promotes Socializr at the top
but then lists 12 other alternatives to Evite in alphabetical order.
Socializr recently added a feature that gives users the ability to organize and manage invitations that originated elsewhere,
such as ones from Facebook, MySpace – or Evite."
Update (Aug 4, 2010):
TechCrunch writes in Evite Introduces Redesign, Tries Not To Suck, Fails,
"'Evite sucks' is not a revolutionary opinion. The online invitation company has been the subject of substantial vitriol
for how much their site design feels like itís from 1998, when they launched. It would be impossible not to respond to
this overwhelming criticism, and the newly re-launched Evite attempts to address many of its user experience problems.
'It should feel snappier than it has in the past,' says Evite CEO Hans Wooley. Yes it should, with hipper clones like Pingg,
Socializr, and Crush3r fast approaching. But the MySpace of online invitation services refuses to take any lessons from
these smaller, scrappier startups, something that even MySpace, to its credit, is now starting to do. Itís still slow
(according to Alexa 76% of sites are faster than the old Evite.com) and itís still full of ads.
The new Evite can add all the social sharing and conversation functionality it wants but unless it pays attention to how
people are actually inviting other people to things, itís just another platform with the fatal flaw of refusing to
understand that user experience should trump advertising revenue always."