SECOND UPDATE: Check the end of this post for some more information from Facebook and ViddYou.
I think most of the Web has reached the consensus that Facebook Platform, the social networking site's new initiative to open up its service to third-party companies' specially-designed applications, has been a resounding success. Anecdotally, I can say that "techy" people I know, who had originally dismissed Facebook as a glorified address book, are now starting to think that it has a whole lot more street cred. And I know some people who are more or less addicted to some of the new features (throw a sheep at me, will ya?)
But whispers have been spreading that perhaps Facebook--generally known for being methodical and well-organized, choosing to roll out features incrementally rather than going for huge revamps--might not have predicted just how popular the new Platform would be, and wasn't ready for the onslaught of bandwidth activity. Yesterday, there were some rumors going around that Facebook had had to sell a full 10 percent of its shares in order to purchase enough hardware to handle its rapid user increase. Looks like the original story was reported on the Web site of the U.K. newspaper The Times and was then pulled. (Conspiracy theorists may point out the fact that The Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which also owns Facebook's chief rival MySpace. Personally, I think it's more likely just a case of some reporting that turned out to be based on unsubstantiated rumor.)
If true, basically, it would indicate that Facebook, often singled out as a red-hot potential acquisition target, wasn't as financially stable as the tech community would have thought. Tough to believe, since we've had every indication that the company is extremely well-funded, financially efficient, and has pulled in adequate advertising revenues. So, like most others following the social networking scene, I dismissed it as speculative gossip.
And I still think the original claims in The Times were untrue, but some more concrete signs have indeed indicated that Facebook wasn't fully ready for the whirlwind success of the Platform. While logged onto Facebook this morning in an attempt to engage in a SuperPoke war with one of my friends, I saw this:… Read more