New social network for food lovers

All those food lovers out there can rejoice. Glam Media has created a new social network completely focused on food, reported Reuters. On Thursday, the company released, which will include everything from restaurant reviews to recipes. Branching out from its usual websites that focus on fashion and health, Glam is hoping foodies will drool over a specialized network designed just to satisfy their palates.

Visitors can create profiles using their existing Facebook or Twitter accounts. After joining, they can follow chefs and food critics, share their thoughts, browse recipes and more.

To produce the site, Glam has tapped an army of more than 100 food writers and bloggers, plus an advisory board of food experts such as food critic Patricia Wells and Iron Chef winner Geoffrey Zakarian.

The release of the website happens as Glam inches closer toward an initial public offering. After meeting with bankers some months ago, the company is likely to file a prospectus for an offering in the second quarter, unnamed sources said to Reuters.

Glam chief executive Samir Arora believes there is space for a social network on food to coexist even against social media giant Facebook. He predicts that particularly passionate users will choose the network as one of their three or four usual digital social networks, while others will use the site more sporadically when in need of a recipe or a restaurant review.

Advertisers appear enthusiastic. During the first quarter of 2011, Arora reported that food firms were Glam’s greatest source of ad revenue, despite the fact that Glam was not posting much content on food.

"What that told us was that food brand advertisers really wanted Glam to create a food channel. And they did it by voting with their ad dollars," Arora said.

Advertisers already featured on the site include General Mills, Betty Crocker and Dannon.

The release of grew out of Glam’s decision to buy Ning, a social networking service created by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. The acquisition reportedly cost $150 million.

Employing Ning technology, Arora forecasts he will be producing further specialized networking sites on other areas of interest.

In a less modern move, Glam will produce printed guidebooks on food, including a listing of the major 100 restaurants for various geographical areas and types of food. The company will face stiff competition from the well-established Michelin guidebooks and the Zagat family of guidebooks.

The new Glam books will feature a greater range of restaurants and food types than others on the market, combing the knowhow of food critics with social data gathered from the site.

"There's a place for Zagat and Michelin, but they are not solving the real problem which is how do you fuse social networking and journalism," said Arora.

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