How to make money on Facebook: No one knows

It's a good time to experiment with Facebook apps, a panel says. Especially since we don't really know what the business is going to look like in a few months.

Hooman Radfar: Terms of Service agreements are made to be broken. Brian Solis

On Monday at the Graphing Social Patterns conference, I moderated a panel about making money from Facebook apps, with Giles Goodwin of Widgetbox, Hooman Radfar of Clearspring, and Jeff Nolan of Newsgator. It's a complicated question, especially for companies that have existing Web-based businesses. When do you start work on a Facebook app? Will a Facebook product cannibalize your other Web products? Can an online business survive on Facebook exclusively?

The panel agreed on just about nothing, which is indicative of a market in a very early stage of development. My favorite issue came from an audience question. John Furrier asked, Is the Facebook Terms of Service (TOS) an inhibitor to innovation, or a useful framework? Radfar said that smart businesses will always push, or even violate, a platform's TOS when building new products. "It's open to negotiation," he said. Nolan extended the thought: Companies don't own their terms of service, he said. "Users dictate" the TOS that they will support.

Brian Solis wrote a summary of the panel discussion on his site,

About the author

Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.


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