Dalton Caldwell recently wrote an open letter to Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. The letter alleged that Facebook had initially supported Caldwell’s startup but later threatened to crush it because it somehow competed with a Facebook product. Soon after he wrote the letter, it went viral on the web.
The letter was not read just be common users but also some notable personnel and was even taken up by the mainstream media. However, all this fame didn’t come without its problems. For instance, investor Marc Andreessen was on the board of both Facebook and Caldwell and once the drama unfolded, he had to pass over his board position at Caldwell to his partner.
According to Caldwell, “It took a lot for me to put that post up, because I had a pretty good idea of what a mess it would be. People think it’s embarrassing or troubling or fear retribution. I think it’s important and I’m willing to do it. I’m not really afraid of saying the truth.”
Building on the fairly handsome amount of attention that his open letter attracted, Caldwell is now set upon launching a Facebook competitor which would be a paid social network and wouldn’t use any in-website advertisement to generate revenue. The proposal of this new project reads, “We believe that advertising-supported social services are so consistently and inextricably at odds with the interests of users and developers that something must be done.”
However, despite all the attention, his project hasn’t been able to raise a substantial sum. So far, it has raised a mere $148,000 which goes on to show just how popular Facebook is and how indifferent the world, in large, is towards other alternatives.
The chief problem that Caldwell faced was the ‘platform risk.’ This refers to the problem which independent developers have to face when they have to rely on data from web giants such as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, if the interests of the developer conflict with that of the website he is relying on, his investment may go to waste.
Caldwell relates his experience, “I got the A-OK, the green light, that what I was doing was kosher, and that I should feel comfortable building a business. [Facebook] told me to build the app. For months, they supported me in building it.” But then one day, Facebook executives told him that his product essentially competed with App Center and that it would be a mistake if he continued working on it. He speaks more about it in the video below:
He addressed the letter to Zuckerberg because he says he was disappointed, “Facebook platform was his idea. It was his big move against Myspace. I’ve been in the Valley for a long time. I know everything he’s written. I’ve met him several times. I know the guy. I think that this is something that he understands. Just for whatever reason, he stopped talking about Facebook as a utility and stopped talking about his platform. I sense a shift in what’s going on over there.”
Source: Dalton Caldwell
Courtesy: The Verge