Is Facebook Worth Its Platform Hype?: Page 2

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Money for an app

Bay Partners, a Silicon Valley-based early stage venture capital firm, recently set up a program called AppFactory to invest $25,000 to $250,000 in entrepreneurs writing applications for Facebook Platform.

Firm Partner Salil Desphande told he sees the Facebook platform leading to something much greater than mere access to Facebook's "social graph," which is its map of users and the connections between them.

Desphande considers Facebook platform as the first "monumental step" through a door leading to what he called the "meta-graph," a sort of Holy Grail for developers building social applications.

He thinks that because of the platform, Facebook will grow so popular that it will force other social networks to open their social graphs to third-party developers, too. Users will demand their favorite social applications to be available on all social networks so they can interact with anyone on the Internet.

In this scenario, applications that started on Facebook with proper funding will be successful.

Desphande isn't sure, however, exactly what kind of applications will succeed with the money his firm and other firms are investing. That's because today on the Facebook Platform is a lot like 1994 on the Internet, he said.

"Imagine you're asking someone in 1994 what kind of apps are going to exist on the Internet? Any answer you could come up with would be too narrow or not imaginative enough."

But VC investment in imaginative concepts can be dangerous. Going back to 1994 as Desphande insists, it's hard to forget the dot-coms that rose out of venture funding and then crashed in the years to follow.

Which leads to a final question.

Is there reason to worry?

There is always a reason to worry. But there's no need to panic yet.

Remember, Facebook users are notoriously nostalgic. Last fall, high school and college students protested when Facebook decided to open the social network to the greater public.

"It's a horrible idea to open Facebook to anyone and everyone," Facebook member Jason Rodzik wrote on the page for a group called "Students Against Public Facebook Access."

Rodzik got that one wrong. So did the millions of users who protested the introduction of the News Feed.

And while it's a good idea to balance Facebook Platform hype with the opinions of the unenthusiastic crowd that's "not really into it," there's anecdotal evidence to suggest new members join the site because of the apps.

Elizabeth Crosta, a public relations representative and Facebook user since July 4, told in a message: "LOL - I am OBSESSED with facebook. I love the platform and the interface. It is clean, easy to use, simple and fun.

"Currently I am just testing a bunch of apps," she continued. "I like the video app the best so far (i was able to upload my trapeze lesson). I am also enjoying the MyGarden and Xme. But some of them are totally useless."

Costa isn't sure if Facebook and its platform are over-hyped or not. But it probably doesn't matter much in the end. As long as the users keep coming.

"I am so new at FB that I am just having fun with it."

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