Developer Claims Facebook Tried to Destroy His Business
The developer of a Facebook app has gone public with a post claiming that Facebook executives tried to hire him because the company was building a similar app.
While the idea of an “aqui-hire” might not sound bad to some, Dalton Caldwell, the CEO of App.net, charges that Facebook uses its heft to intimidate developers like himself rather than help build up the app community.
Reps from Facebook could not be reached for comment.
In a post entitled “Dear Mark Zuckerberg,” Dalton claims he visited Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters on June 13 and met with several execs at the company. “I was hoping the outcome of this meeting would be executive-level support for my impending product launch,” Caldwell wrote. Instead, Caldwell found that Facebook had a different motivation:
The meeting took an odd turn when the individuals in the room explained that the product I was building was competitive with your recently announced Facebook App Center product. Your executives explained to me that they would hate to have to compete with the “interesting product” I had built, and that since I am a “nice guy with a good reputation” that they wanted to acquire my company to help build App Center.
I quickly became skeptical and explained that I was not interested in an acqui-hire. I said that if Facebook wanted to have a serious conversation about acquiring my team and product, I would entertain the idea. Otherwise, I had zero interest in seeing my product shut down and joining Facebook. I told your team I would rather reboot my company than go down that route.
Caldwell added that the platform developer relations exec at the meeting didn’t help defend his position. Rather, the exec told Caldwell that he was recently put in charge of App Center and because of new ad units the company was building he was now responsible for $1 billion in revenues. “The execs in the room made clear that the success of my product would be an impediment to your ad revenue financial goals, and thus even offering me the chance to be acquired was a noble and kind move on their part,” Caldwell wrote.
Finding no sympathetic ears in the company, Caldwell penned the missive directed at Zuckerberg.
Mark, I don’t believe that the humans working at Facebook or Twitter want to do the wrong thing. The problem is, employees at Facebook and Twitter are watching your stock price fall, and that is causing them to freak out. Your company, and Twitter, has demonstrably proven that you are willing to screw with users and 3rd-party developer ecosystems, all in the name of ad-revenue. Once you start down the slippery-slope of messing with developers and users, I don’t have any confidence you will stop.
Caldwell never explains what his app is. In a string of comments on Hacker News, some criticized Dalton for complaining about what appeared to be a good deal from Facebook. Others, however, pointed out that Facebook’s position appeared to be “join us or die.” Beyond taking sides in the spat, though, one pointed out that Dalton’s argument is itself a negotiation tactic: “It’s a game, FB used hard tactics, now he is using public sentiment. It is just an money game in the end. Blog posts like this just hurt both companies perceptions.”
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Kevin Krejci