Friday, May 30, 2008

Facebook Garage08 Platformaversary - complete Q&A as I heard it

Yday evening, May 29th, 600 of us lined up in Palo Alto outside Aquaris Theater for the 1 year anniversary of facebook platform. Caitline O'Farrell pulled off an awesome garage seamlessly again this year!

Ben Ling of Facebook presented a review of the first year of the platform 400K developers from 160 countries in 1 year! And from the audience, its going on strong!

This was followed by a video of the 1 yr anniversary by facebook team here

New Facebook Profile Page

The bulk of the evening was spent, facebook style on really sharing their excitement for the new profile page changes planned and getting feedback from users and listening to them.

Dave Morin gave a presentation about the new profile page. Youtube will not allow large videos and restricts formats, here is the video on facebook!

My Summary:

  • The new profile page is going to be a totally different look and feel with tabs for everything.
  • It takes the base philosoply of facebook treating apps as keeping the platform fresh and allows users engagement with apps to produce new content on their profile.
  • A new feeds item is going to allow feed notification of profile items to show what a user's friends are upto beyond the current news feed. Feels like a comparison to friendfeed, but for everything facebook only, including apps on facebook. This is the coolest feature!
  • Apps don't have to be installed and this means work for the developer with opportunity to win with engaging apps as each engagement can showcase content on the profile
Q&A by facebook team about Profile Page and its impact on developers and users

The entire platform team was there and listened and answered questions. I thought I got it when I saw the presentation and demo, but the audience had real good questions. I've tried to capture all Q&A, pl ping me if something is amiss!

Q. Waleed started the first question about box profile. Is the box like the canvas page?
Yes but no flash auto play allowed in the box (waleed help fix this, there was more to your q&a)

Q. Jesse Stay asked: Can we comment on the feeds we see in a friends' profile.
My comments: I've refrained from an analysis and to present the Q&A as I saw it for the benefit of fb fans everywhere who couldn't join us. However, this question brings about the general sentiment that users are looking at this new feed as similar to friendfeed. I think commenting on a friend's profile would be cool. We could always do so with a wall post, so why not allow it in context of each feed item? - imho.

Q. Any limits to number of tabs?
6 tabs UI wise is the limit. Additional apps will be added to a drop down menu. User will have the option to re-order the tabs to their choice.

Q.Any change to App directory?

Q. What explicit integration points does app developer has without asking user for explicit permission?
Apps can publish stories. User needs to give permission to add app to profile box and Tabs.

Q. Support for apps developed with Flash in feed dialog?
Adding flash info to short stories is coming.
Feed form - is in the works, not yet ready. A flash developer can use FBJX bridge and do feed forms for now.

Q.Any plans to redesign profile on iphone?
Not at this time

Q. Today wall attachments allow us to give free gifts (or other app interaction) to a user who has not added an apps from a user who has added the app. Will this change?
Yes, it will work only for combination of users who both have the app.

Q.Where will facebook ads be in the new profile?

Q. Aggregate of feeds?
Ari Steinberg came up specially to explain the profile and news feeds. (I am missing something here, my don't have much, pl help if you heard this question)

Q. Tabs limited to Canvas URL, can there be different URL from server for rest of the App action? (Missed this one too)

Q.How will pages, groups be displayed in the new profile page?
They will fit in the info tab. Groups and Page layout will be made to match the new profile layout later. Way to add apps to pages remains the same.

Q. (my Question) How much work is it for a developer an average app to migrate to the new profile page? What happens if they did no change to an App?
The new profile offers lot of opportunities for the developer to create content thats part of the new profile for engaging apps. If you do nothing canvas page will remain the same, you app will be bucketed into the tab for user to decide if they want to keep it, and you'll lose all other benefits of user decision points to create visibility in their profile page.
(I want to hear from real developers who have let behind first few apps and moved on to newer fb apps on their actual experience on this one)

Q. Can one app add to a user's profile box, boxes, info section, tab etc.?
Profile box and boxes are multually exclusive, rest all can be added with user's permission.

Q. Whats new with feeds, we have mini feeds and news feed now, is it totally different, is mini feed gone in the new profile?
  • mini feed is old and won't exist in new profile.
  • Profile feed is the narrative of the owner of the profile. It includes wall and apps inside it.
  • News feed will show show a user's friends are doing.
  • Publisher is an upgraded wall attachment and goes to profile feed by user.
Q.Will platform allow developer to create your app tab?

Q. What is the roll-out schedule?
Developers should start getting their apps ready for the new profile page. Users will have a beta opt-in period to try the new profile and give feedback. Then old profile will be eventually discontinued and everyone will be rolled into new profile

Q. Because of App add removal, does this mean an app developer can email users?
Yes, only with user's permission. It will be another option to ask for user permission by app.

Q. Last Question by Dave McClure - When can 3rd party Apps message into the news feed of a user who has not installed the app?
It is already happening now.

After the Q&A we went to the happy hour at Blue Chalk cafe!

Bay Area facebook Meetup folks: Is there any interest in covering this topic in our upcoming meetup? Just post on our fan page wall here

Also, help me clean any omissions or inaccuracies in the Q&A. And do
try the sandbox of the new profile here

Friday, May 16, 2008

TIECON08 - Mike Speiser's keynote on startup execution

I am blogging live from TIECON08 in Santa Clara listening to Mike Speiser

I admire Mike Speiser because I relate to his approach of defining the startup process with an Engg approach. I heard him from a TIECON07 panel last year as an entrepreneur and am amazed that now as a a VC, he has the same advice, with the same passion and clarity.

He founded Bix, raised $7M, spent $700 when he sold to Yahoo, now he is joining Sutter Hill Ventures.

I am going to upload a video of part of his presentation, will do better justice to his passionate advice for entrepreneurs! (will update here once it is ready)

Update: Mike's presentation(pdf) with his notes are at his blog here.

My summary: I've taken 3 key points and as I sit listening to Mike, I remember many entrepreneurs I know who are in early stages building out their startup either from my blog readers or my mentorees from MIT VMS program and everyone of his advice is so true and profound.

1. Iterate, Iterate and find your real product

This is not about speed but about finding the real product-market match that creates revenues. He was making a subtle reference to this other point. The key is not about building technology for the sake of technology or a product thats productizing of your technology by a product manager, but finding a product that generates real revenues with market validation for it.

2. Do not do marketing before your product is ready

As a marketing person and entrepreneur, I find the need to add a clarification here.

Marketing for new entrepreneurs, especially engineers includes everything other than engineering design and development.

I think Mike refers to spending time/focus/money to reach users/customers with outbound marketing efforts like a launch event, PR, speaking engagements, conference exhibits etc.

This does not mean you build a product in vacuum, but you as the entrepreneur need to spend time understanding your customer, reaching them and listening to their feedback to adapt your product to iterate to what really generates money directly or scaling excitement of consumers that can be monetized.

This implies for Web businesses (or facebook app based businesses) that you need to build metrics by which you understand your real user behavior and you have to be super aggressive in reaching variety of customers who would pay.

You iterate here as much as the product and be ready for the chaos of change and hire the early team that can survive, appreciate your approach and help you succeed in adapting to customers.

3. Recruit the best VC

is another gem of wisdom here. Focus on building product, finding market validation that scales, then go find the best VC.

Do not select a VC only based on giving out less equity but find the best VC who can help you scale your business, aligned with your long-term vision.