Home > 1. technology > Sold out! Part II

Sold out! Part II

December 13th, 2007

Here’s a nice outline of raw notes of the 2hrs of demos that we presented yesterday. It may or may not make sense to you if you aren’t involved in the space, or if you didn’t actually attend the event.

One other note: Facebook changed it’s status function by removing the previously mandatory ‘is’. I think that the students that created ‘Super Status’ can claim credit for finally swaying Facebook to make this change. I imagine that many facebook app developers and even facebook employees themselves will be applying the lessons that we learned in this class.

[Revised: I’ve been informed by my friend Dean that facebook had been rolling the changes to a subset of users as early as last week. In other words, the change cannot be attributed to our presentation on Thursday. It seems that the change was just a weird coincidence.]

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  1. December 14th, 2007 at 14:09 | #1


    What the teams did is amazing and what you learned is amazing too. However, what does it say about the future of Facebook’s platform? The takeaway is: make an app which is essentially an invite machine (hug, kiss, hotness). Grow to millions of users. Then increase engagement.

    The apps which had more of a real purpose (sending a “hug/hotness point/kiss” is really just sending an invite) end up not having good user bases. Facebook is supporting this too: they have reduced the number of invites you can send out, and increased the number of emails you can send to users of the app. One observation someone made is that the social networks were less dense than expected (~3 common friends with any given friend) and so you are forced to get lots of people to install your app in order to engage with them.

    I think the incentive system is broken, and that if they don’t do something, people will get sick of using FB because of all the spam (not to mention all those ads in the newsfeed!)

  2. December 14th, 2007 at 15:16 | #2

    Hi Chris,

    I think you have hit the basic lesson on the head. And if you peel back a little bit more, there were lots of hints about how to tune your install engine as well.

    I’d also say that the ultimate goal is to create a group exchange app. Not all provoke and retaliate apps have concepts that can be turned into group exchange apps. They may be just fads. But don’t write them off too quickly: facebook is doubling every 8-9 months, so there will be plenty of newbies for years to come.

    Another thing: there are some basic human needs being fulfilled here. It’s not quite as broken as you say. I prefer to say that it is immature.

    And I am hopeful that the apps will grow up, and then have more examples of success with substance.

  3. December 14th, 2007 at 15:43 | #3

    Sure – group exchange is clearly where it’s at – one to many. RockYou and Slide figured this out a couple of months ago, it just took them some time to get things integrated.

    I was talking with some friends after the presentations, and we talked about the things we like: seeing what people are up to, sharing photos, etc. The things we don’t like are all the spam and overload of “stupid/furry” apps. The actually useful ones have been pushed down. Even FunWall and SuperWall have gotten more engagement by spreading viral videos and huge posts, expanding their real estate in the profile section and pushing other apps off the page. Hopefully there will be downward pressure through uninstalls.

    I do like the analogy of immature. I’m sure that in 6 months or a year or 4 years, I’ll look back and say “damn, if I’d just thought of X app in December 2007, I would have been a billionaire!”

    For now, it’s pretty fun.

  4. December 14th, 2007 at 15:50 | #4

    I think that ‘utilities’ are a category of slow growth, but long-term value. We’ll see more of them in the future. Just make sure you aren’t competing with fb on a ‘core’ feature like single sign on.

    Note: I think group exchange is many-to-many. Broadcast is one-to-many.

  5. December 14th, 2007 at 17:51 | #5

    I’m going to make an “invite factory” app and see what happens.

    Regarding the “core” features, why not? FunWall and SuperWall have completely done that, and been very successful. They can iterate on things much faster than Facebook does, and so they stay ahead.

  6. December 14th, 2007 at 18:45 | #6

    Almost everything on the profile page is an app – including Facebook’s wall. You can un-install the wall if you want! So I don’t consider the wall to be ‘core.’

    An invite factory (by which I assume you mean something that lets you invite more than 20 people per day) would indeed be a core feature. Anything to do with member model, news feeds, etc., I consider to be core.

    I don’t have any data to support my position, but I will say that almost everyone in the class agreed (and everyone within the team at Facebook) that it was useless to compete with the core features.

    Prove me wrong – that’s much more interesting than agreeing with me!

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