Le Web: Social networking tool Stribe takes top honors in startup competition

by on December 10, 2009 at 7:11 pm

December 10, 2009 | Kim-Mai Cutler

stribeStribe, a tool that helps build a social network around sites, won the top prize at the Le Web start-up competition in Paris today.

The French startup is trying to tackle the difficult problem of building social communities around content on a page, and outside of a social network. It’s a line of code that you add to your site, which creates an overlay that users can log into. They can see the most active users visiting the page and the most popular links people are sharing.

Stribe originally debuted at the TechCrunch50 conference in September where the team was criticized for not including a Facebook Connect integration so users could automatically log-in with their Facebook IDs. Stribe came back and launched that feature and is now a pretty slick tool that rests in a sidebar alongside any site.

So now, Facebook users can leave comments and chat with each other alongside a site. It’s like Google Sidewiki, but it isn’t part of a browser toolbar. Publishers choose whether to include it or not. If they do, it appears in all of their users’ browsers. Kamel Zeroual, the co-founder and CEO of Stribe, said about 4,000 different web sites have asked them to install the service, which is still in beta.

The plan is to pursue a freemium model. It will be free to everyone, but if a publisher wants to brand it or give a special skin, they’ll need to pay extra.