Facebook's Application Rock Stars

The Community Next conference in San Jose, CA this last weekend resembled the mosh pit at a rock concert. It featured performances by the twenty year-old rock stars and a few older ones who have developed successful applications on the new Facebook applications platform. Business cards glowed with approval like cell phone lights at a concert. Venture capital promises were passed around like illicit drugs. The performers were mobbed by their fans.

On May 29th, Facebook opened its platform to application builders. Now four months later, 5,000 applications were reported at the conference. Compete data show that Facebook activity grew 32% from May to August, 2007, with more than a third of the growth coming from the new applications. Zach Allia, a recent graduate from Northeastern University in Boston is one of the stars. His Free Gifts application has grown from start up to 7 million Facebook users in the last 120 days. Cool!

Sage old rock star, Mitchell Kapur headlined Saturday’s presentations. He advised the young developers of the unavoidable tensions between their applications and the platforms they are developing upon. He counseled:

  • Platform owners have the power
  • Innovations migrate into the platform
  • Some platform owners want to control the whole system
  • Platform owners need their applications, but they are destined to absorb the best of them into the platform.

Mitch should know. Twenty years ago, his Lotus 1-2-3 and Lotus Notes performed brilliantly, but eventually succumbed to platform-provider Microsoft. I remember. I was there.

One of the hot young performers listening to Mitch was Craig Ulliott. In 2007, he launched Where I’ve Been which has quickly become Facebook’s most popular travel application. Craig is now pursuing the transformation of his Facebook application into a successful online travel company with its own web service (www.whereivebeen.com) and additional applications on MySpace and other social networks, beyond just Facebook.

Rock on!

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