by John Johnson, staff writer
PALO ALTO, CA—Two once-obscure online companies, Facebonk, Inc. and Hoogle Corp., have reported a record number of visitors to their websites over the last few years, due in part to the staggering success of two similarly-spelled internet powerhouses, social network Facebook and search giant Google.Facebonk, which started out in 1996 as a tree-identification website, quickly outgrew its roots and blossomed into a site where users could create profiles and send e-mail “bonks” to each other.
“The whole concept of friending and building social networks hadn’t been invented yet,” said Todd Germaine, acting vice president of Facebonk. “So people just went around ‘bonking’ other people, because that was the only thing you could do. Then when Facebook came along and offered a means of actually forging friendships, we did all we could to catch up with the times, and after six months, we finally had a way for users to change their screen name.”
But the age of mistyping URLs had only just begun, and as Facebook gained popularity, so did Facebonk. “Initially, when people accidentally arrived at the Facebonk website, they were immediately captivated by the bonking function, and signed right up,” said Germaine. “But now, as membership skyrockets, we intend to introduce new features, like the ability to see other user’s profiles, and before too long—by next year, maybe—a means of logging out.”
“We probably owe most of our success to fat-fingering,” admits Germaine, referring to how many of Facebonk’s visitors inadvertently end up there with a simple typographical error.
The same goes for Hoogle, which was founded in 1998 and has a somewhat sordid past. Soon after going live as a one-stop-shop for pet monkey supplies, its CEO was arrested for knowingly selling less-than-top-grade bananas as monkey feed. After reexamining their business model, and considering demographic reports showing that very few Americans actually owned monkeys, Hoogle’s product line was broadened to include pet elephant supplies, as well as an array of accessories for giraffe owners.
With Facebook continuing to expand across the globe, and Google offering more online tools and products than ever, Facebonk and Hoogle welcome more and more new, unwitting visitors every day.
According to sources close to the two companies, Facebonk is in preliminary stages of merger talks with Hoogle. The deal would have several legal and regulatory hurdles to overcome, but if approved by the Justice Department, the new company would be an online travel agency, and would operate under the name Hoogabonk.
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