Facebook is reportedly testing a new feature to auto-tweet a link to Twitter when you post pictures on Facebook. All Facebook sees this as a danger sign for TwitPic, while TheNextWeb hints that Facebook is aiming for Ping.fm.
This is already becoming a trend. When giant Facebook introduces a new feature, some startups are going to feel the heat. Let’s look at the ground we have covered so far and what may lie in the future.
Startups For Conversation
In Aug 2009, Facebook acquired FriendFeed. We all know what happened since. When Facebook wants to be the place where you go for having conversations, what is the fate of startups focusing on FriendFeed-style conversations? Simler was hyped to some extent last year, and has shut down already. Two hold-outs in the conversation space are Cliqset and Amplify. Here are traffic stats for Cliqset, FriendFeed, and Amplify over the last year:
The graph doesn’t make sense if you include Facebook in it, as both Cliqset and Amplify are indistinguishable from the X-Axis. Both of them have had rave reviews from early-adopters and tech bloggers.
Facebook Groups may well be the nail in the coffin for startups aiming to be the place where you have conversations. Even the giant Google is still struggling with Google Buzz to establish it’s own conversation space independent of Facebook. I don’t see much conversation happening on Windows Live, except as a shell to Facebook.
Startups for Lifestreaming
In my view, the Facebook Newsfeed has effectively demolished the hype surrounding Lifestreaming. StoryTlr shut down in Oct 2009. Chi.mp continues to exist, providing a free way to own your own domain, content, and identity. Have you heard anything about it in the last six months?
The concept of having your own content on your own domain with your own identity appears to have died in the age of the social web, except in the hearts of a few digerati.
Facebook has now introduced voting in its comments plugin. Once it becomes adequately feature-rich, it will be an attractive option for publishers wanting to capitalize on traffic from Facebook. This can be a direct threat to Disqus, Intense Debate, and Echo, as noted by RWW last month.
Why would Facebook be interested in comments? A comment is a stronger signal than “Like”. Users may “Like” content casually, but when they comment, it indicates true engagement.
None of these commenting startups have been able to capitalize on the social aspect of commenting, where you can follow where your friends have commented. Facebook has the wherewithal to do this and I would expect this to be a focus area for Facebook in the future.
Social Startup Funding
Last month, Kleiner Perkins announced the launch of the $250 million sFund, in partnership with Facebook, Amazon, and Zynga to encourage innovation in social. From the release:
Facebook will contribute access to its platform teams, beta APIs, and new programs, like Facebook Credits.
In other words, integrate and play nice with Facebook if you’re a social startup eyeing any of that money.
Is there room for startups in the social space independent of Facebook? Twitter has not exactly been kind to developers in its ecosystem, while the waiting game with Google continues. The Age of Facebook seems to have begun.