by C.G. Lynch

Facebook Manager Talks About Hopes for the Platform

Mar 25, 20083 mins
Enterprise Applications

Dave Morin, the senior platform manager at Facebook, delivered the afternoon keynote at the SNAP Summit 2.0 conference in San Francisco to an audience populated by many developers who have built applications on top of the world’s fastest growing social network.

After briefly touching on the “we started in a college dorm room” story, Morin delved into the social network’s plans for the Facebook Platform, which the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in May 2007 would allow third-party developers to create applications on top of the site.

Morin said that, at the time of the launch, he personally believed it would be “amazing” if 5,000 applications were developed in a year; as of today, not even a year later, the application directory holds 30,000.

Here’s three key aspects of the platform he touched on:

1) The Facebook Fund. Morin emphasized that the $10 million dollar, venture-capital fund – set up last September to finance businesses with promising Facebook applications – is still very much up for grabs. During the Q&A session, Morin was pressed as to how much money of the fund had already been distributed. He deferred to what appeared to be a company spokeswoman in the back of the main speaker room here at the Commonwealth Club on Market Street. She said that rounds between $25,000-$250,000 have been given to some companies, and that the average round thus far has been $200,000.

2) “The need for world class apps.” Morin says Facebook wants to see more applications that take the platform “to a new level,” including widgets that could help people work better (perhaps getting away from, say, virtual beverages and cupcakes). He didn’t use any word like “enterprise” widgets, as Facebook will undoubtedly keep being a player mainly in the consumer space. But he hinted that he sees merits in applications being developed to mirror how peoplle work, especially if Facebook will be up on their browser all day anyway.

3) Facebook is open, but not in the OpenSocial kind of way. Morin talked a lot about Facebook being open, and how it wanted to make its platform as easy as possible for developers to use. As an example, he noted that Facebook licensed its platform to Bebo. That said, during the Q&A, it was inevitable that a member of the audience would ask him why Facebook hasn’t joined OpenSocial. OpenSocial is the Google-led, common Application Programming Interface (API) that allows developers to create applications for multiple social networks that are members of it, including MySpace, rather than modify the code for each one. Morin’s response was predictably vague: “Open social is not something we’re participating in. We’ve made a lot of commitment to openness. If OpenSocial became something that’s interesting, maybe we’d work with them as well.”