Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deep Read: The Case Against Facebook - AKA Mark Zuckerberg's little problem

Did Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg build his $15 billion business on a stolen idea?

It's not a new charge, but 02138, the Harvard magazine, takes a fresh look at the evidence leveled against Zuckerberg by several classmates who are suing him. It's hard to read it and not come away with the impression that Zuckerberg did some pretty unethical stuff, and then lied to cover his tracks.

There are two main questions at hand: Whether Zuckerberg, who was supposed to be working on a rival social-networking site in the months before he debuted Facebook, actively stalled his supposed collaborators to get a head start; and whether he purloined the code he was supposed to be perfecting.

On the first question, the answer seems to be yes. At a minimum, Zuckerberg has misrepresented when he started work on Facebook. Zuckerberg has said he didn't begin until Jan. 14, 2004, when he informed the founders of Harvard Connection that he would no longer be working for them. That was always suspicious, as Facebook went live less than three weeks later. And indeed, reports 02138, court documents show that Zuckerberg had already registered his domain by Jan. 11, and on Jan. 12 he emailed a partner to say the site was almost complete.

As for the code, Zuckerberg has said "[t]here is really good documentation" that Facebook's code was not based on Harvard Connection's. But it turns out there's not:

Zuckerberg has been on notice since September 2004 to preserve information relevant to the case, but for some time Facebook claimed they couldn't produce a shred of source code from when Zuckerberg first began working for Harvard Connection, the original Facebook code, or even the Facebook code in October 2004, one month after the original suit was filed. Zuckerberg's lawyers have held that nearly all the early Facebook code has disappeared, wiped from outside servers long ago or lost on missing or corrupted hard drives.

02138 has posted documents from the case here. Here's the details:

Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard Application (PDF)

Mark Zuckerberg's email to Harvard’s Administrative Board (PDF)

Mark Zuckerberg's testimony #1 (PDF)

Mark Zuckerberg's testimony #2 (PDF)

Facebook Statement of cash flows 2005 (PDF)

Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss's testimony (PDF)

Mark Zuckerberg's online diary (PDF)

Statement of damage done to La Jennifer sublet (PDF)

Media Blog - Mixed Media by Jeff Bercovici: Deep Read: The Case Against Facebook -

Facebook Blinks on Beacon

It’s been so long since I’ve been able to write about Facebook every day. I’m gonna relish this while I can. BusinessWeek reports today that Facebook may be tweaking the ill-received Project Beacon. These changes could come as soon as November 29—aka today.

BusinessWeek points out, accurately IMHO, that as Facebook tweaks the system to assuage its disgruntled users, it runs the risk of upsetting its advertisers and partners:

In the wake of mounting criticism, Facebook executives are discussing changes to a controversial advertising tool that publicizes users' Web activities outside of the popular social network. Alterations to the recently introduced Beacon system could be announced as early as Nov. 29, has learned.

Executives of the three-year-old company were in deep talks over proposed changes late into the afternoon on Nov. 28, according to a person familiar with the matter. At issue is the Beacon program, which alerts members' Facebook "friends" to purchases and other activities on third-party Web sites. A spokesperson for the company declined to discuss changes, reiterating an earlier statement: "Facebook is listening to feedback from its users and committed to evolving Beacon."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Techcrunch: "Screenshots And Details On Upcoming MySpace “News Feeds”"

A Reuters article earlier today gave a few details on MySpace’s upcoming “new feeds” product (which is what Facebook calls their similar product launched a year ago. We spoke to MySpace and got a much deeper look at the product, as well as screenshots of how it will look.

The new product, to be called “Friends Updates,” will launch this Thursday, says MySpace VP Communications Dani Dudeck. MySpace users from New Zealand and Ireland, where Friends Updates is being beta tested, can already use it.

The new product will give users a steady stream of event information from their friends. Profile updates, blog posts and photo/video uploads are all noted. See screenshot for a visual.

Techcrunch: "Screenshots And Details On Upcoming MySpace “News Feeds”"

Xbox 360: Social Networking Platform

Fans of the Xbox 360 will notice their systems update on December 4th, and according to reports will now allow a social networking feature called “Friends of Friends.” There exists currently within the Xbox live framework the ability to maintain a list of friends, presumably regular gaming partners.

The new update will extend that functionality to allow several levels of visibility of your friend list to others. Those 13 and up will be allowed the ability to show their friends who else is on their list. Adults will be able to make their friends list public. For those under 13, all friend lists will remain blocked.

What’s also somewhat interesting is how Microsoft is billing this update in their press releases, saying that the feature can be used as a tool to “find old friends or connect with new ones within the community of more the eight million people.” Of course, a community of eight million does not a social networking powerhouse make, but it ain’t no slouch either. I doubt there will be much use in the social network (at least initially) beyond being able to scope out other potential game-mates.

Xbox 360: Social Networking Platform

Facebook Scores Deal With ABC - The Unofficial Facebook Blog

via Facebook Scores Deal With ABC - The Unofficial Facebook Blog:

The New York Times is reporting that ABC and Facebook have partnered to bring more political coverage to Facebook users. Through the partnership Facebook gets to distribute ABC’s political content for free and ABC gets exposure to the more then 52 million Facebook users. Facebook had already created the US Politics application but it hasn’t been extremely popular.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Facebook Market Research Secrets — Alec Saunders .LOG

Good description of how to get Facebook stats on certain demographics:

Facebook Market Research Secrets — Alec Saunders .LOG - checking out the number of users, frequency of use and valuation of Facebook apps

Check it out, detals below:

What is Adonomics?

Adonomics™, formerly Appaholic, is your source for Facebook analytics. By providing a stock-market-style analysis of the Facebook platform we enable developers and investors to track application growth, activity, and valuation.

(as of Nov 25th 2007):

Facebook Facts

  • There are 587,618,810 installs across 9,487 apps on Facebook with over 168,000 developers currently evaluating the platform.
  • These applications were used 31,818,152 times in the last 24 hours and have a combined valuation of $504,543,658.
  • Facebook has approximately 50 million Unique Active Users in the past 30 days and a valuation of $15 billion.
  • This translates to $300 per active user.

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