Should Entrepreneurs Avoid Facebook?
A few years ago, when it became obvious that Facebook was becoming a worldwide online phenomenon, it didn't take long for entrepreneurs, inventors and developers to flock to the site. The social network started offering a number of developer tools that allowed people to build apps and entire businesses around Facebook and its billion users. After all, getting direct access to such a large marketplace is enticing, and many people dived right in. But as Facebook has aged, it also started becoming less cool. It used to be that any teenager or young adult would look at Facebook for its latest news, information and social contact. But now, they are leaving the site. Too many privacy blunders, the site has become too corporate, or there is simply better out there. The reasons are many, but now we see sites like Instagram, Tumblr and SnapChat taking over.
But does that mean developers should follow suite? After all, what is popular in the young will typically spread out and become the next big thing. Some people seem to think so. We're now seeing VCs actively discouraging new apps from being built around Facebook. Not only because of the cool factor, but also because of the social site's past when it comes to handling its developers. When you build your app on Facebook, you are putting all your eggs in their basket. They can pull the rug from under you at any time, and you have no recourse. You may get access to a large user base, but your business is completely at their mercy.
But Facebook is not sitting still. Just last week they announced a number of new tools for developers to extend their app to the mobile platform. It is no secret that the company wants to tap into the mobile market big with things like Facebook Home, and now it seems to be trying to port its ever popular app ecosystem to phones as well. But will that be enough to keep innovators interested, or is it too late?