SXSW: Facebook Holds a New Carrot for Developers

Posted by: Douglas MacMillan on March 15, 2009

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Last year, Facebook ticked off a good chunk of its third-party development community by redesigning its home page. Their “apps,” widgets like games and photo tools that users can download to their profile pages, had been shoved unceremoniously to a separate tab on the site called “Boxes,” which statistics showed hurt their traffic. One developer, Scott Rafer, declared that the “Facebook platform is dead” to the outside developer community.

This weekend at South by Southwest, the company is giving its third-party devs some serious love. At a “Facebook Developer Garage” in Austin’s Pangaea bar, dozens of app makers tipped back free drinks while watching presentations on how to use new tools for building on the Facebook platform. And they were told about a new Facebook Fund competition, which will award the creators of 100 great applications with $100,000 each in early May

The message: Facebook depends on its developer community to spark energy around its site. The company has realized this, and has decided to give its third-party developers more freedom to work with its platform instead of less.

Facebook is again holding the carrot, will developers bite?

Here’s a video I took with Josh Elman, one of the Facebook platform leads who presented how-to’s at today’s garage.


Josh Elman, Facebook from Doug MacMillan on Vimeo.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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