Caroline McCarthy covers social networks for CNET over on her blog (aptly titled "The Social"). Today she has a post entitled "News Corp. reportedly buys something--but it's Beliefnet, not LinkedIn or Digg". In the post she says...
There must have been something afoot in the crisp, early-December air that hinted News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch was in the market for a new Web acquisition. But, contrary to rumors, it isn't social news site Digg or business networking hub LinkedIn.
Rather, the media conglomerate is rumored to have purchased religion and spirituality site Beliefnet, according to a report from the FishbowlNY blog at Mediabistro. The blog received an "anonymous tip" that prompted a call to Beliefnet, resulting in an odd no-we-won't-deny-it comment that convinced FishbowlNY editor Noah Davis that it was pretty much a done deal.
It amazes me that people are surprised by this. There's no question that we have a secular culture in the United States but that doesn't change the fact that roughly 87% of the population actively believe in one religion or another. The fact that most of the mainstream tech industry scoffs at this market is exactly why Beliefnet (from what I've seen a rather weak entry into the Social space) does so well.
I'll make the point even clearer: In the World there are 2.04 BILLION more Christians, 1.44 BILLION more Muslims, and even 840 MILLION more Hindus than there are Facebook users.
The idea that targeting a market that big would be surprising shows a prejudice on the part of the tech community that is both unseemly and naive.