According to Dunbar’s Number, “humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships.” Path, at its core, was a social network built around this idea. When the service launched, you could only have 50 friends. They later expanded that number to 150 (and then 500), but in those early years the network limitation forced you to only connect with people who really mattered to you. No old high school acquaintances, no business fan pages. Just you and your closest friends or family.1

Additionally, Path benefited from being an attractive competitor to Facebook at a time when you could get your friends and family to switch social networks. Today, Facebook’s too large to directly compete with, even if your defining feature is one they’d never want to copy. I want to believe the ideals of Path could be repackaged and relaunched today, but you would need a lot of money to keep a free social network afloat for long enough to maybe reach the critical mass necessary for advertising or subscriptions to sustain the service.

Anyhow — adieu, Path. You were the social network we needed but never deserved.


  1. Today, the only small (social) networks I find solace in — and enjoy, frankly — are iMessage groups and iCloud Shared Albums. ↩︎