Facebook is going to launch a music service. That's the oversimplified version of what the tech press expects to see at the company's September 22 developer conference, F8. What we are much more likely to see, as Om Malik reports: A new, Facebook-sponsored way for music distribution companies, in particular Spotify, to worm their way into the Facebook social network.
Because that's how Facebook rolls now. It's not a destination. Well, for consumers it is. But for everyone else in tech, it's a platform. Facebook started saying that at the first F8 conference in 2007. Since then, the company has solidified this position. Facebook's move to becoming a platform is one of the most canny business shifts in tech. Initially Facebook roped users in and sold ads against their page views. And then Facebook figured out that instead of selling advertising impressions, it could sell the network of users itself to other companies.
That's why Facebook never pushed its own gaming service and why Zynga is big. Because Facebook knows that Zynga knows how to make games. And if it wasn't Zynga in the social game spotlight, it'd be some other company. Meanwhile Facebook makes the network that Zynga can leverage. When Facebook wins, Zynga wins. And when Zynga wins, Facebook collects the rent.
It is a brilliant strategy, and it's playing out in other areas where, if Facebook were not a platform company, it would almost definitely have its own branded services.
For example, Facebook could take on LinkedIn as a jobs network. Why doesn't it? Because it's not a company that builds new specialized services. It's a company that lets other companies take on those tasks. For professional networking, for example, there's BranchOut, a rapidly growing Facebook-based service that does resumes, endorsements, and job search for "Main Street, not Wall Street," according to CEO Rick Marini.
Professional networking would seem like a natural fit for the social network service Facebook, and I asked Marini if he's worried about Facebook horning in on his territory, users, and revenue plan. On the contrtry, he said, BranchOut has a "special relationship" with Facebook. Kevin Efrusy, the man who brought the Facebook deal to VC firm Accel, is also on BranchOut's board of directors. Facebook, while it encourages other companies to succeed on its back, also nurtures special partners.… Read more