OK, thanks to my friend Clay who is chief techie for Dean, I got into Orkut today — Google’s new stealth social networking service designed to kill Friendster, Linked In and Ryze. It appears to be a clone — pretty much what one would expect from a state-of-the-art social networking site. There are hooks in there for connecting to Google’s upcoming e-mail service, and it looks like they are also planning to get into classifieds eventually. Why the name Orkut? It is clear that Google has its eye on the portal space. Bad move for Google in my opinion, but I guess they have to do this now that Yahoo! owns AllTheWeb which indexes more of the Web than Google in fact. I don’t think Google knows how to run a content or community based service — this is not their core competency — and I worry that if they extend into these areas they may risk diluting their brand and confusing their message. This will be an interesting case study to watch as it plays out. By the way let me know if you want to be invited to my Orkut network to try it out. Just email me with the subject line “Orkut” to nova AT radarnetworks DOT com.