Their lips still chapped from smooching Apple, the news media have discovered they must now suck up to Facebook, too. Just as Apple has the wildly popular iPad, Facebook has 800 million users, many of whom check it first thing in the morning in place of a newspaper. Which is why everyone today leapt to go to work in Mark Zuckerberg's money mill, and thanked him for the privilege.
The only word to describe Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's keynote at the company's second annual F8 developer conference.? Awkward. In this clip, Zuckerberg tries to demonstrate how useful Facebook platform applications are by comparing iLike to MySpace, Zynga to Las Vegas and Causes to — wait for it — Al Gore. Clearly, Zuck's speechwriters meant the whole thing as a kind of joke — the kind they should have known Zuck wouldn't be able to deliver. As usual, Zuck throws his employees under the bus for his inability to speak in public: "Not sure where the team came up with these examples. They're pretty funny." Yes, Mark, we're not cringing at you, we're cringing with you!
Today at its F8 developers' conference, Facebook will announce a plan to give favored widgets more abilities to promote themselves on the site. The first two apps to get "preferred" status will be Causes and iLike. What does being a "preferred" widgetmaker mean? A source tells us that in the short term, Facebook will simply promote preferred apps in users' News Feeds more often, increasing their chances of spreading from friend to friend. "Basically, it is a subsidy program for their favorite darlings," says our source. Causes is an app backed by former Facebook president Sean Parker; iLike is a startup backed by Marc Bodnick of Elevation Partners, who is also a private Facebook investor and the brother-in-law of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Our source also tells us that after top tier preferred apps, there will be a middle tier of "certified/approved/vetted" applications as well.
COO Sheryl Sandberg and PR chief-turned-platform politician Eliot Schrage, Facebook's no-fun adults, are fully in charge of Facebook. The latest evidence? Facebook's second annual F8 developers' conference has another "hackathon." But unlike last year's all-night session, it hardly deserves the name. It starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m., presumably so Schrage can go home and get a good night's sleep before calling reporters on the East Coast to tell them of Facebook's fabulous new platform achievements. Developers are still raging about the notion that Schrage, a PR guy, is in charge of Facebook's development platform. At a recent party in San Francisco, Ben Ling, the technical guy behind the platform, was spotted rolling his eyes when Schrage's name came up.
Facebook will follow its F8 developers conference this Wednesday with another 8-hour "hackathon" for third-party developers and Facebook engineers to work on widgets. This will be fun to watch, because those two groups kind of despise each other right now. Last spring, Facebook began taking a hardline stance against widgets that spam users or violate privacy rules, even going so far as to temporarily remove popular apps like Top Friends and Super Wall from the site this summer. Then, a beta test of Facebook's new profile revealed a new feature that made Slide's Top Friends redundant. Slide responded cheerfully to the news, but one exec at a widgetmaker told us that if Facebook keeps up the regime of enforcement and copycat apps, venture capital for Facebook-focused startups will dry up. Of course, we hardly expect a brawl or even public arguments during the "hackathon" — passive-aggressive Twitter notes and other forms of repressed resentments, anyone? Developers, save yourselves the future therapy bills. Just do what Facebook wants and build the kind of apps its employees describe in the video below. That seems easier.
Facebook released its schedule for its second annual F8 developers' conference on July 23. Facebook's servile, so-called independent developers have three tracks to choose from: "User Experience," "Technical," and "Business." If you work for a Facebook widgetmaker, you're probably confused, because who among you trying to build a business on the Facebook platform doesn't also need to be fully briefed on its user experience and technical aspects? To clarify, we've translated Facebook's description of each track out of verbose PRspeak.
Facebook will hold its second annual F8 developers' conference on Wednesday, July 23 in San Francisco. That means we'll watch Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg take another shot at his reported goal of impersonating Steve Jobs's keynote addresses. Funny thing is, Jobs isn't actually a very stylish public speaker. Check out the end of the 60-second versions of his last two keynotes below. His speeches are stuffed with frilly adjectives. Jobs only does so well because his keynotes are full of highly anticipated announcements. Zuckerberg doesn't — can't — do grand reveals.
Bay Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, is cutting small checks to startups developing apps on Facebook's F8 platform, VentureBeat reports. Sure, Bay is opportunistically trying to ride on top of the frenzy for apps written specifically for Facebook's user base of 29 million. But Bay's initiative, called AppFactory, is small potatoes compared to what we think Facebook backer Jim Breyer, managing partner at venture capital firm Accel Partners, might be up to.
TIM FAULKNER — Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg's "social utility" (better than a network), was lauded with much fanfare last week for its new "open" developer platform. What Facebook doesn't want you to know is the strict control they intend to exert over their developers and their image. Now we can reveal their methods via a leaked guideline for developer press releases that you weren't supposed to see. Key excerpts with translation from PR speak to English after the jump.