Skip to Content

Facebook opens site to other companies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Facebook Inc. is encouraging other companies to sell products and create software for use on the popular social networking site, hoping to expand into an all-purpose destination on the Web.

The company’s 23-year-old founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said Thursday the move was similar to what Microsoft Corp. did decades ago, when the relatively obscure software maker began encouraging third-party companies to write programs for its personal computer operating system. The strategy made Microsoft phenomenally profitable and helped turn founder Bill Gates – like Zuckerberg, a Harvard University dropout – into world’s richest man.

”Until now, social networks have been closed platforms,” Zuckerberg told about 750 programmers attending the company’s first developer conference, dubbed f8. ”We’re going to end that.”

The Palo Alto-based startup has so far recruited about 65 companies to create software for the Facebook Platform, which will be opened up to any company starting Thursday night.

The best known third-party contributor so far is e-commerce powerhouse Amazon.com Inc., which is allowing Facebook members to publish book reviews on their profile pages. The feature will debut later this week.

Zuckerberg and his Harvard buddy, Dustin Moskovitz, co-founded Facebook in February 2004. The site was supposed to be the virtual version of paper ”face books” that Harvard and other colleges distribute to freshmen.

But within a month, the site had caught on at Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. By December 2004, it had nearly 1 million active users.

After the site opened up registration to non-college students last September, it evolved into a major social networking destination to rival MySpace.com, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate News Corp.

Facebook now has more than 24 million users who have logged on in the past 30 days. Venture capital firms including Accel Partners have contributed more than $35 million (euro26 million).

Critics say Facebook – which is getting more than 100,000 new registrations per day – cannot maintain its scorching growth rate. Others worry that Zuckerberg and the company’s other 20-something technophiles lack the experience and credibility to turn the site into a profitable, publicly traded company.

On Thursday in San Francisco, Zuckerberg – who sported a fleece jacket, baggy jeans and flip-flops – seemed well aware of the challenges ahead. Technical gaffes dogged his nearly hour-long speech, and he broke out in a visible sweat.

”We’re the sixth most trafficked site in the U.S. and we can’t seem to get our act together,” Zuckerberg joked as he fumbled to synchronize his presentation slides, which were in disarray.

After laughs from the crowd, he regained his composure and added, ”We recently passed eBay in traffic and we’re working on passing Google, too.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

open sourcing language models concept
open sourcing language models concept

Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free

Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.