Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Salil Deshpande has announced a bold move with the Facebook AppFactory. Bay Partners is announcing The AppFactory, a seed program to fund Facebook application developers via a fast-track process.
This program shows that Bay Partners believes that Facebook, in essence, has become the Social Operating System. And historically the creation of an operating system, or platform, has always led to the creation of an applications market atop that platform. “We think that the Facebook platform is broad enough, technically sound, appealing to businesses, and such a culture-fit for todayâ€™s internet ecosystem that it will become a significant and meaningful social operating system platform, if not the dominant one.”
We asked Salil, Partner at Bay Partners, a few questions on the news:
What are you investing?
We will award between $25,000 – $250,000 to between 10 and 50 entrepreneurs with a flexible, fast-track process. Because early investments of this size are really bets on people and concepts, Bay Partners looks at the AppFactory as a fantastic relationship starter with tomorrowâ€™s innovators. Because the investments are small, when compared to traditional venture investments, and because the amount of due-diligence that be done on kernels of ideas is often also small, Bay expects entrepreneurs to invest no more than a few hours into the process, and expects to make go no-go decisions in days rather than weeks.
What does this mean for Ajax developers?
With announcements such as this, and Google Gadget Ventures, firms are putting money where their mouth is. We are seeing the birth of web platforms, and these platforms become distribution mechanisms for entrepreneurs. The technical bar is lowered, as it is easy to create applications on top of Facebook, Google Gadgets, and the other platforms out there.
Currently we see simple, almost trivial apps. As time goes on those apps will become more and more sophisticated, and will be a blend of on-platform and off-platform experiences, and will likely involve a lot of Ajax.
What types of applications do you foresee coming from this platform?
We definitely see the open Facebook platform resulting in real, valuable applications. We believe that the Facebook apps of the future will be deep and sophisticated and will strike the right balance between adding value to the Facebook fabric, and having value independent of Facebook. For example, a shipping app that lets Facebook friends transparently use a service such as LicketyShip to physically lend and borrow books listed as favorites from each other, can monetize by charging for the shipping. A stock picking app that lets friends view each othersâ€™ stock portfolios could monetize at the point where friends want their own portfolio to reflect a friendâ€™s picks.
And can people really make money from Facebook applications?
Yes! Incorrect conclusions are being drawn from the unmonetizability of some apps that have spread fast on Facebook to date. Some apps are like jokes that get forwarded around by email â€“ and will always be unmonetizable. But meaningful apps will be monetizable just as meaningful web 2.0 websites are monetizable. We are interested in backing entrepreneurs that will be imaginative about what types of applications can be built on Facebookâ€™s Social OS.
Facebookâ€™s user interface is critiqued as being sterile – not very rich , flexible, customizable, or personal. Will this change things?
First off, the Facebook apps we are looking to fund are not necessarily those that focus only on jazzing up the user experience. Having said that, yes, we definitely think that the open API will allow a whole new level and set of rich experiences to be available on Facebook. Now that Facebook has put itself in the platform business, the application developer community is bound to create rich user experiences, whether they are enhancements to Facebookâ€™s current user experience, or alternative user experiences.
What will the other social networksâ€™ APIs look like?
Hereâ€™s some bold speculation. By the time other social networks open up their platforms, Facebook may have a sizeable lead in developer mindshare, and in the number of applications on their platform. The other social networks may struggle if they introduce APIs that are not compatible with Facebookâ€™s. We think that the other networks should consider making their API compatible, if not identical, to the FaceBook API. This will allow one-click deploy of apps written for the FaceBook platform, onto the other platforms, thus mitigating Facebookâ€™s lead. And we think they will seriously consider this.
This once again shows what a great time it is for Ajax developers. Everyone wants us!
Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:38 am