I must break you
Finally got around to reading Dalton Caldwell’s letter to Mark Zuckerberg. If you are in the social software business you should too.
I can relate because I’ve been there - quite recently as a matter of fact. I won’t name names but it sounds like ‘sh*tter’.
Caldwell captures the essence of the challenge for developers like him, but also for the big social ‘platform’ providers.
Once you start down the slippery-slope of messing with developers and users, I don’t have any confidence you will stop.
I believe that future social platforms will behave more like infrastructure, and less like media companies. I believe that a number of smaller, interoperable social platforms with a clear, sustainable business models will usurp you. These future companies will be valued at a small fraction of what Facebook and Twitter currently are. I think that is OK. Platforms are judged by the value generated by their ecosystem, not by the value the platforms directly capture.
He’s absolutely correct, and if history isn’t exactly repeating itself, it’s at least rhyming.
I spent many years in and around the ecosystem of former platform juggernaut Microsoft (believe it or not, there was a time - not long ago - when Microsoft was not only a but the dominant force in technology. Yes, I’m that old…). When Microsoft was clubbing companies like IBM, DEC & Novell (again, I’m old) it was specifically because of the loyalty they had engendered from their developer ecosystem.
And when they started competing with that ecosystem in the mid-late ‘90’s, it was the beginning of the end (although my friend Ray Wang, among others, has been asserting that they are belatedly recognizing the errors of their ways).
For a more current example, take a look at the IOS vs. Android market - without 3rd-party developer support, it doesn’t matter how good your phone is.
The biggest challenge facing Facebook and Twitter right now is that, because of the pressure being placed on them by the financial community, their need to monetize - directly - prevents them from having the time or the ability to cultivate the 3rd-party-developer ecosystem they need to establish their social platforms as dominant.
In many ways, it’s nice to be Zuck - but I’m not sure I’d want to be him right now. Even if he wants to be a good guy and cultivate Dalton and others, he can’t.
Whose hands does this play into right now? My money’s on Google.