FriendFeed: Like a news feed on steroids

What if you took the Facebook news feed and removed it from Facebook? That’s kind of what FriendFeed is like. I’ve been using it for awhile now, courtesy of my blog friend Louis Gray, and I have to say it’s become quite addictive. As Eric Eldon notes at VentureBeat, the site — which just launched publicly — is so simple and easy to use that it’s hard to resist. It pulls whatever your friends are doing from dozens of sites such as Twitter, Flickr, Google Reader and others.

But it does a lot more than that as well. You can comment on the items that your friends have posted, you can watch video clips they’ve posted to YouTube right in the feed, you can click “Like” and give an item the thumbs up, and the site continues to add new features almost every day. For example, I just discovered today that you can even create what FriendFeed calls an “imaginary friend” — someone who doesn’t use FriendFeed, but whose activity you want to track (my feed is here).

The ease of use and the relentless addition of new features isn’t surprising when you find out that Paul Buchheit and a team of former Googlers are behind FriendFeed. Paul launched and developed Gmail, among other things (and is also apparently responsible for coming up with Google’s “don’t be evil” slogan). As TechCrunch points out, Paul and co-founder Sanjeev Singh also participated in the funding round, which raised a total of $5-million and includes Benchmark Capital.

As Jason at Webomatica notes, one big competitive threat on the horizon is Facebook itself, which recently announced that users can import items from outside services into their news feed. Given Facebook’s massive size relative to FriendFeed, this is obviously an issue for the service, but comparing the two also makes it obvious how much more seamless and easy to use the feed at FriendFeed is. But will that be enough?

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