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James Hong

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Facebook Apps

I've been evangelizing Facebook Apps so hard to people lately, people have actually come up to me and asked me if I own stock in them or something. (Sadly, I do not)

I will write a bit more down the road about how successful our company has been at proliferating random apps on Facebook (the most notable others that have jumped into building apps beyond their core apps are slide and rockyou), but suffice it to say it is CRAZY. It took us 8 days back in 2000 when we first launched HOTorNOT to break the "1 million votes counted in a day" milestone, and that was with the help of a lot of press. On Facebook Apps, we achieved the same goal in 4 days, with absolutely no press and no hype. There are some even crazier stats than that, but I will save those for another post.

Someone I have a lot of respect for (despite his poor taste in college football/basketball teams) is Marc Andreessen. Marc just wrote an interesting blog post about Facebook Apps that I think is pretty much dead on.

I only take exception to one thing he wrote:

the Facebook Platform is primarily for use by either big companies, or venture-backed startups with the funding and capability to handle the slightly insane scale requirements.

I disagree with this. iLike's application may have been particularly heavy, but it is not inconceivable (in fact I think it is more likely than not) that people will come up with massively popular apps that are not as machine intensive as ilike's particular application might have been. Combine that with the fact that facebook allows advertising, and the fact that managed hosting companies exist, and i think it is quite feasible for 2 guys and an idea to scale.

Granted, they have to be REALLY good.. but really good people out there do exist.

Jim and I scaled HOTorNOT by ourselves, with no money injected. There are plenty of sites out there that have grown to sizable scale with no money taken. There's a saying I heard recently that "creativity is what happens when you take a zero off the budget." (Sorry i can't remember who said that, but if it was you please let me know so i can credit you!!)

I am betting there are a LOT of really smart, creative people out there who WILL be able to make large scalable apps on facebook without taking in money. If any of you are exploding right now and need help, feel free to contact me.

Marc, I want my dollar back. Care to wager on this, timeframe is by end of year, milestone is an app with 5 million users by a company with no funding, running profitably :)



Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree with you over Marc on the need to be large. I also have a different perspective to marc on the need to be in the directory. Finally I think its worth while considering the implications of FB commoditizing the social map. I posted my thoughts on all of the above at the Lightspeed blog - click on my name in this comment if you're interested or go to

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the facebook apps, they have added a whole new dimension to facebook.

Great to see more of your blogs James, your like British buses, one doesnt come for ages and then all of a sudden three come along together :-)

Mark Bowness

7:21 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

yep, it was a terrific post by marc, altho i thought his concerns re: scalability were a bit overblown (then again, he's probably re-tooling Ning to be a Facebook app hosting service, so i think i understand why he's grinding that ax ;)

would love to hear more about the HotOrNot experience on FB... do tell that story.

and i love HotLists... very cool :)

- dmc

9:21 AM  

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