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I don't understand what you think Facebook did wrong.

They intend to enter this new space, using their technology and their people.

As a courtesy they offered to hire you / throw a lot of money at you.

What would you have had them do instead?

Not compete with you, because you're a precious snow flake?

Acquire you and treat you like a prima donna, giving you your own team and allowing you to take your own technical direction?

Why should Facebook - or any competitor - do either of these things?

Seems to me like they acted pretty reasonably here.

Of all the things you said, this struck me as the weirdest:

> Strangely, your “platform developer relations” executive made no attempt to defend my position.

What do you think the purpose of the “platform developer relations” executive is? To advocate AGAINST Facebook and for random outside developers?

I'm not a fan of the Facebook app (not a member) or the company...but in this case, the firm seems to be acting 100% reasonably.

I think his issue was that the meeting was in bad faith. He was under the impression that he would be demoing his technology so it could get visibility within Facebook, not walking into a negotiation.

If they had been upfront about their intentions with the meeting, he probably would have never gone.

  What do you think the purpose of the “platform developer relations” executive is?
  To advocate AGAINST Facebook and for random outside developers?
Actually, yes. Usually that is what someone in that position does. They are the advocate for the customer, to help the company see things from the customer's point of view.

I think his issue was that the meeting was in bad faith. He was under the impression that he would be demoing his technology so it could get visibility within Facebook, not walking into a negotiation.

While it is true that he said the thought he would be demoing, I don't think the discussion about an acquisitions was a problem in itself:

I said that if Facebook wanted to have a serious conversation about acquiring my team and product, I would entertain the idea.

I think his problem was that Facebook were negotiating from a position of strength (and were honest about that), and he didn't like it.

I think his problem was that Facebook were negotiating from a position of strength (and were honest about that), and he didn't like it.

It really is odd how ecosystem developers always seem to act so shocked when they realize that the prime developer (the one who wrote the API agreement) turns out to hold all the power and control.

Actually, the real issue is that they're breaking their implicit promise to refrain from competing against the outside developers they rely on to improve their "open" ecosystem.

a) I disagree completely that there is any sort of implied promise not to compete with app developers. Even ignoring history on other platforms (where every single platform takes good ideas from apps and incorporates them) Facebook is too young a company for people to think they won't add something to their platform.

b) Even if there is an implicit promise, in this case Facebook acted very ethically in offering to buy him our when they decided to offer the same features. I can't imagine a better way to have handled that situation from Facebook's point of view.

Of course there's an implied promise. If platform operators openly stated "anything you develop can and will be used against you - by us" then no one in their right minds would develop on those platforms.

As you note, the trust involved is invariably abused, but always within limits - vaguely defined as they may be. What Dalton Caldwell is observing is that these parameters appear to be shifting.

That's FB's prerogative, and I don't object to their exercising it. But there were two ways to handle the change. The first was to buy Dalton out, shut down the project, but provide jobs for his team. The second was to do what they did with Instagram, preserving the product and the team, and letting things evolve from there.

It seems like going the latter route would actually encourage people who really care about products to build on FB's platform. The former route also provides incentives, but of a much lower grade, and only appealing to people who don't really care about the products they develop, and see the compensated shut-down / aqui-hire as their highest goal.

If platform operators openly stated "anything you develop can and will be used against you - by us" then no one in their right minds would develop on those platforms.

There is a difference between "using something against you" and a platform keeping their options open.

But, to quote Tim Bray from 2003:

They own the ground you’re building on, and if they decide they don’t like you, or they can do something better with the ground, you’re toast. They can ship their own product and give it away till you go bust, then start charging for it; and use secret APIs you can’t see; and they can break the published APIs you use. All of these things have historically been done by platform vendors.[1]

My point is that no platform has ever behaved differently to how Facebook are now, and Facebook are at least offering money to companies they are planning on competing with.

People will continue to develop for these platforms, though, because they offer the incredible lure of money - they are were the users are, and where the users are the money is too.

[1] http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/07/12/WebsThePla...

Where exactly is this 'implicit promise'? It's implied. Implication is in the eye of the reader/understander, not the stater/provider.

Other way round - When I'm talking to you, I can imply and you can infer.

I understand the grammar of it, but the question is: if one implies, and you don't infer the implication-- did the implication exist? It's basically the tree falling in the forest. I've never read anything from Facebook that implies this. If they inferred it, they did so incorrectly.

> I think his issue was that the meeting was in bad faith.

Agreed, but an honest question [and I'm no fan of FB, but...]: how could FB have requested a meeting without acting in bad faith and without being dumb? Seems dumb for FB to say to Dalton: hey, we're about to launch a competitive product and, since you're going to be squashed, we wanted you to come in to talk about an aqui-hire. Now Dalton has inside-ish info on FB (which he will have post meeting anyways) and can run around telling FB's competitors that FB is bidding for his company.

I suppose one of the VPs could have pinged Dalton about meeting for coffee, but then, assuming the informal meeting goes well, Dalton still has to meet all the other VPs, Dirs. Plus FB has a lot of these conversations with companies (I've been in 3 separate ones with 2 companies), so this is kind of the process.

I don't particularly see a better way for FB to handle the situation. Were I Dalton, I would have given myself some cool-down-room and, rather than blowing off the discussion, would have engaged the folks in a discussion and then told everyone that I'd get back to them first thing in the morning. Then I would have gone for a long run and let my thoughts settle. Or at last that's what I did when this happened to me 4 years ago.

They can tell him that they're interested in an aqui-hire before hand. That's how they can act in good faith. If he shows, he gets the info they gave him at the meeting anyway. If he doesn't, they crush him, which they plan to do now, after the meeting they had in bad faith.

What else would the meeting be for? He's incredibly naive if he honestly thought that the meeting was going to be them congratulating him for making a good product and nothing more.

I was hoping the outcome of this meeting would be executive-level support for my impending product launch.

What executive-level support would they give him except to buy him/his product? The bad faith here is going into this meeting with no intention of entertaining their obvious position.

It's not OK to take advantage of a naive person. They could simply have explained their position in a way more appropriate for the kind of meeting they had portrayed.

If Facebook wanted an acqui-hire from this meeting here, they sold it awfully poorly. They don't have to care, of course, they'll likely just look elsewhere and scoop up 5 people to do the same thing, but from a business perspective this meeting would have seemed to be a waste of time for all concerned. Again, FB has the cash so who cares, but to drag people in with the hope that they'll forget themselves and jump at whatever opportunity is presented. They're taking time and attention away from the thing that attracted them to this person.

Heck, that they kind of throw offers around like this is kind of a lesson for future targets simply to triple their ask. "Sure, $50MM all cash." Screw those jerks.

>It's not OK to take advantage of a naive person.

Let's not insult Dalton. Let's assume Dalton is a smart guy and not a naive guy, but that he's in an unfamiliar situation and that THIS SHIT IS HARD. It's easy to sit on the sidelines and judge. It's quite another thing to figure out what to do when: you're a VP at FB who wants to talk with Dalton about an aqui-hire (seriously, how do you do this?); and when you're Dalton and you receive an email from said VP asking for an audience [what kind of audience?!?! who knows.].

>They could simply have explained their position in a way more >appropriate for the kind of meeting they had portrayed.

My original comment suggested that they couldn't. You haven't provided any evidence to the contrary (in fact, you've suggested my "dumb" route without saying why it's not dumb). Let's assume everyone is a decent person [AFAICT this is a reasonable assumption]: this is not a soap opera; this is trying to figure out how to have a tense conversation with someone you respect.

>Heck, that they kind of throw offers around like this is >kind of a lesson for future targets simply to triple their ask. >"Sure, $50MM all cash." Screw those jerks.

This is a very dangerous comment. Of course, there are anecdotes to the contrary, but, by and large, few think the way you suggest they do and I'd warn fellow readers to take this as an anti-pattern. Those playing the game who get to the aqui-hire level are very high performers, not sell-outs. To suggest that the aqui-hirers are fools from whom to part money or that aqui-hires are sell-outs is to demonstrate extreme naivete. Google's top line really can benefit by adding high performance teams and Google is willing to pay for it. This is rational. At the same time, an acquired CEO, such as Kevin Systrom, can be happy that his biggest, in fact existential, competitor is now his partner. This, too, is rational.

Above all, this stuff is both hard and subjective. Let's look at how to use it to be more effective, rather than how to tabloid-ize it.

I should have said "a person's naivete" to emphasize its situational nature. Everybody is naive in unfamiliar situations, by definition, and I didn't mean to imply that he was a naive person through-and-through. I would venture that assuming I was pinning my support on an insult is not a particularly charitable interpretation.

I don't have to provide evidence of an opinion, so I don't know where you're pulling that from.

My original comment suggested that they couldn't.

Which was: how could FB have requested a meeting without acting in bad faith and without being dumb?

Really? First of all that appears to be a false dichotomy. Secondly, they have a lot of brains at FB, yet idiocy and bad faith were the only two possible motivators for the meeting? They can figure it out, and if they can't, well, maybe they take the more-informative route.

Dumb, right?

Saying you are at a disadvantage for having everybody on the same page and not being oppositional or predatory is a sign of a bad mind to me. Can't tell him in advance that it's really about acqui-hire? Pretty much the same kind of arbitrary rule as "don't call her for three days." If you want to go through life accomplishing your goals in an antagonistic way, then follow their examples, but engaging in business this way in terms of romantic relationships is "The Rules" type poppycock. I'm not even going to address your assertion and denigration of decency and information as "soap opera."

Oh, but they "couldn't." How powerless FB is in this situation! How ever did they find themselves so?

this is trying to figure out how to have a tense conversation with someone you respect

Isn't that tension entirely related to preserving the hustle? Let's all shed a tear for the difficulties FB has in maintaining a powerful negotiating position.

Thing is, in this case I would say that what you identify as "tension" is a reflection of their powerlessness. Obviously they wanted him on board rather than building it themselves with other people, by sheer dint of coming to him before what other people wind up being their follow-on choices. So the hustle was functional in that they just decided to wield the bat of money that apparently is all they have to offer when manners fail them. Of course Mark Zuckerberg is known to be a rude person, so we can also see this episode as evidence (as you so require) of the fish rotting from the head.

To suggest that the aqui-hirers are fools from whom to part money or that aqui-hires are sell-outs is to demonstrate extreme naivete

Hey, all I'm saying is that if you're open to selling in the first place and FB comes sniffing around, ask for more than you would normally when being ambushed in a meeting. And yes, it's foolish to treat someone you want to work with in the way that they did here. Perhaps their negotiator end-points aren't as highly-performing as you say the acqui-hire targets are.

But I appreciate your point: decency is too much to ask of Facebook.

>They can tell him that they're interested in an aqui-hire before hand.

I thought that I covered this in my comment under the "dumb" option. I don't mean to be disparaging, but I'm not sure how else to take the suggestion, so switching to a not-great analogy:

Your suggestion is sorta like saying that people should walk into a car dealership and say "I want to buy this car. No, not that one. THIS car." It's a classic negotiating fail. If you know they're going to buy the car/company, you're going to milk them.

Of course, FB may think that THIS car/startup is absolutely perfect to acquire, but it's unrealistic to expect them to reveal that bit of info.

And if they won't sell it to you, you walk away. Classic negotiating success, which is what Caldwell did here.

It just so happens that what FB were selling was a position of some repute within their organization, which they not only failed to do, but they misrepresented the product in the first place.

> If they had been upfront about their intentions with the meeting, he probably would have never gone.

I don't understand why this is a big issue. What was the cost to him in going to this meeting? It would hardly have changed the outcome (outcome: he declines their offer and they build a service which clobbers his.)

It was an ambush that was designed to give FB an advantage in negotiating with him. It was hardball tactics, carried out in bad faith. Why should Dalton feel neutral about being on the receiving end of that?

I don't understand how they gained an advantage through that meeting. It seems that, meeting or not, they already had the advantage by controlling the platform.

Dalton sums up his issue with FB's tactics pretty succinctly right here:

Your team doesn’t seem to understand that being “good negotiators” vs implying that you will destroy someone’s business built on your “open platform” are not the same thing.

He then goes on to call out the root-cause of the problem as FB's understandable but unfortunate focus on ad-revenue. This puts them at odds with the developers who use the platform and that's clearly not a good dynamic. Both MS and Apple have long understood that getting developers and keeping them happy was essential to keep a platform fertile.

EDIT:fixing typo/poor construction in last sentence.

Actually, over the years both MS and Apple have heavily messed with developers in various ways.

Microsoft refined the practice to the point they coined a new term for it:


As a recent example from Apple, they are now requiring sandboxing in the App store, which is heavily messing with a number of developers. But they are not sandboxing their own applications.

EDIT: this comment appears to be unpopular? what's the disagreement?

EDIT: Also, I should point out that apple didn't used to mess with developers, probably because they were primarily a hardware company, with low market share, so developers were key, and there was no competition. However, they have expanded and are now also a services company, so they have an incentive to mess with the environment in order to defend their services against competition. Microsoft, conversely, made quite a bit of money off of it's office products, so always had a reason to manipulate the environment.

Generally, negotiations favour the prepared. By ambushing him, FB was hoping to trick him into negotiating unprepared. Dalton, by experience or judgement or both, recognized the ambush and dealt with it well. Someone else might start talking terms because they accept what the FB execs are saying (and thus be intimidated or fearful, or grateful for what seems like a nice guy move by FB).

"What was the cost to him in going to this meeting??

Time, both in the meeting and in preparing, and in information transfer. He didn't specifically say what he went through, but he may have divulged pieces of the puzzle that they were unaware of.

I mean, sure, but in business there are always meetings you attend for partnerships or offers that don't pan out. It's just the way the world works.

Yes but there's a difference between a well-intentioned meeting that didn't pan out and a mal-intentioned meeting, and it would seem that it was the latter according to the OP

I recently had a meeting where our side came out of it literally saying "WTF was that?". We'd expected it to be about how a partnership would progress and it was more the other side questioning us about why there should be a partnership at all.

In retrospect, our contact with the other side that had set up the meeting hadn't properly communicated to us what the meeting would be about, and presumably had not communicated much with his side about what they were looking for at this stage.

Their side was basically dysfunctional, with each person on their team having a different agenda.

I wouldn't say that meeting was mal-intentioned, just that their company was really screwed up.

Facebook may be in a similar stage at certain levels.

There doesn't have to be a specific badness to be mal-intentioned. Disparate, fuzzy, or nonexistent intentions are just as much a waste of time for the other side than specifically harmful goals. It's all garbage on the receiving end.

His time is presumably valuable to him. The cost was his time. Time he could have spent building his product.

Time, sure, but also I think that instead of the exec-level support he wanted he instead got the impending doom that either:

a) Facebook will knock on his door again at a later date asking to "acqu-hire".

b) Facebook will eventually release something in-house that will compete with his app (and most likely win due to Facebook's large momentum).

With the impending doom stuff aside, I still don't think that he should've expected getting exec-level support for his product walking in to the meeting. Facebook doesn't _need_ to give him anything. So yeah, he wasted his time, but that's _his_ problem, not Facebook's.

I replied to veyron [your sibling]'s similar comment.

Who knows what positions each took behind closed doors, but do you think they aren't going into a negotiation all on the same page? Do you think they would allow someone in negotiations to take a position opposite to the company line?

Also, relations does not mean advocate. He has relations with the customer, he is not obliged to advocate their views. Especially not when it goes against FBs interests.

OP is equating "“platform developer relations” " with "ombudsmen" apparently.

Unfortunately this is a business. Not a university, non-profit or a government entity.

It's not that uncommon for for-profit businesses to have someone in an ombudsman role, responsible for advocating on behalf of the (official) customer. It's most widespread in news companies, where most newspapers, news magazines, and TV stations have a role specifically designated to be the readers'/viewers' advocate. Of course, it's ultimately self-interested, but it's the kind of self-interest that involves convincing your customers that your organizational structure is taking them seriously.

As an example from tech, I believe HN's 'jf' used to be a startup-relations person for Microsoft, whose job really did involve trying to advocate for their needs within Microsoft, reporting out of the product groups' normal management hierarchy to make sure he was giving them third-party input.

"It's not that uncommon for for-profit businesses to have someone in an ombudsman role"

I definitely understand your point but I don't think it is correct to use the phrase "not that uncommon" with respect to "for-profit businesses" without defining what types of businesses you are referring to.

The overwhelming majority (anecdotal of course) of for-profit businesses do not have anything like an ombudsmen. I would agree that with respect to newspapers that statement would be correct from what I've seen and probably universities.

I wouldn't want to speculate on the percentages here, but if we believe the numbers as far as the amount of businesses of all sizes that are out there, I think it's safe to say that the majority don't have an ombudsmen. So I would say it is uncommon.

"Developer relations" normally implies a role intended to encourage developers to use your platform. If they're just going to parrot the company line, then there's not much point in them existing, is there?

>>"Developer relations" normally implies a role intended to encourage developers to use your platform.

no, thats marketing.

Dev relations works with you once you are already using the platform. Don't get their intentions confused. They may be on your side with bug fixes and feature requests, but if you try to do something that goes against their company, why the hell would they be on your side?

It's a facet of marketing, sure - but you're marketing your platform/API/library/company to developers, not the general public. It doesn't really matter whether they're currently using your system, since they might be in the near future.

The implication is that by having a large ecosystem with lots of developers, the company will benefit, but in this case, FB appears to have shot themselves in the foot.

Its not marketing. Dev Relations is a liaison to developers. They will champion your cause when it is mutually beneficial. But they don't work for you and are not obliged to stick up for you.

All the liaising in the world is not going to help you when all the developers who use your platform think that you're an asshole, or you're too busy managing your ad portfolio to pay attention to them.

Bad faith? Why didn't he ask them to be more specific about why they wanted a meeting. It seems the problem was that he made an incorrect assumption.

Would you please stop being gratuitously rude?

Not compete with you, because you're a precious snow flake and

Acquire you and treat you like a prima donna, etc.

add nothing other than nastiness to Not compete with you and Acquire you, etc.

I didn't view that as rude. Eye of the beholder I guess.

Nope, unambiguously rude. This kind of negativity is why this community is worse than it used to be.

Agreed. I feel like I see this in nearly every discussion now.

Pardon me for barging in on this discussion but I find the use of "Nope" in a manner not humorous, ironic, or otherwise deceptively rendered to be quite rude indeed. I do not question your motivations but maybe we are — many of us — to blame for the ills you decry.

Are you serious? "Nope" is just informal, it's not any more or less rude than "no".

Yep. Rude.

Nor did I. He was likely trying to describe the self-entitlement of the younger generation. Which I totally agree with. You/we are not entitled to anything and you/we are not special snowflakes. I think that's all he meant to convey.

Perhaps it would be helpful to unpack this.

"You" did not refer to a generation, but to a person, so the language was personally insulting. The bar for personal insult is much higher and this comment doesn't pass it. First, the OP did nothing to deserve it, so it was out of place. Second, delete the insulting language and the comment not only doesn't lose information, its point (defending Facebook) becomes clearer. There was no need for arbitrary sticks in the eye. That's the meaning of "gratuitously rude".

I think writing a rude[1] letter to a public figure and posting it on your blog does change the rules somewhat.

I do think that the author's post came off as somewhat precious. Saying Not compete with you, because you're a precious snow flake? was less polite than perhaps is ideal, but OTOH the author's post was also less-than-polite.

[1] "I didn’t want to believe your company would stoop this low. My mistake.", "rotten-to-the-core “platforms” like Facebook", etc

You make a reasonable case. Still, context matters. It seems to me the OP was being emotional while the commenter was being snide, and the latter is more destructive.

Far be it from me on the day after Gore Vidal died to say that snideness is always a bad thing, but the community here is fragile and simply can't withstand the free flow of vitriol.

> He was likely trying to describe the self-entitlement of the younger generation. Which I totally agree with.

This argument has been made for likely as long as the human race has existed and is completely worthless. May as well say you walked up hill both ways through snow on your way to school every day.

The point is not what he may have been 'trying' to describe. Rudeness is not necessarily about substance. It is about expression. He could have expressed himself in many ways. He chose to do so in terminology that was patronizing and rude. I wouldn't do him the disservice of thinking he didn't know what he was saying or the implications of how he chose to say it.

Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.

And you try and tell the young people of today that, they won't believe you.


No. It's just rude.

Depends on how used to sarcasm and being joshed you are.

Joshing implies a pre-existing relationship. Walking up to a stranger on the street and shoving him is not horseplay.

I don't think so. I'm English and so consider myself well versed in sarcasm. This isn't sarcasm.

What, you can't see that calling someone a "snowflake" and a "prima Donna" is rude? You have a serious attitude problem!

I just downvoted you by accident on mobile, it should have beeb an upvote.

He's pissed because the conversation went from "Hey, this is great for both of us, what can we do to help you build it?" to "Join us or die".

If Facebook went from expressions of support for the project to hostility, I think anyone would feel they'd acted in bad faith.

It's not illegal, and it's a fair point that developers should anticipate Facebook's conflicting interests. But it's also fair to publicly shame sleazy behavior when you see it.

Exactly. It is a breach of faith that goes to the heart of what a platform is supposed to be.

By creating an open platform, Facebook has made the big picture decision that encouraging third party developers to build applications leveraging their social graph is beneficial to the company's bottom line, allowing them to be embedded in places where they otherwise wouldn't be. This is where utilizing a product company's platform can be very morally dicey. They offer a platform for others to build on, because it raises the value of their company by making it more pervasive. They also build their own products on top of their platform. Which takes precedence over the other? My view is this: in the long run, the developer platform is more valuable than any product Facebook can build themselves. The short term thinking that is demonstrated here leads to damaging the trust that developers have in the Facebook platform.

It's one thing to use Facebook for authentication. It's easy and takes little investment. However, building a REAL product on the platform is a risk. If Facebook behaves like this, they show that it's a risk NOT worth taking, and they devalue their own platform, putting short term gain (product) over long term gain (platform).

I think that was the point of the meeting. They saw that there was a developer in the space they wanted to enter. They could have just undercut him without a thought, but instead offered to work with/buy out his product. This happens.

Microsoft and Google are doing it with hardware. I imagine the phone/tablet manufacturers had a similar reaction as this guy, but didn't go blogging about it on the web. It's good for us that he did, because OEMs talk to each other in meetings. Small time devs best communicate a company's intentions via the web.

Except that it won't, i.e. Microsoft in the 90's and Apple on the iOS/Mac platform. Businesses will follow the markets which have the greatest opportunity to turn over profit. In fact Microsoft used to call their relationship an "ecosystem" because like a predator they would gobble up or crush the smaller players.

Yeah, but that's why linux caught on.

That said, the real difference is that Microsoft's platform was better. It offered more power for less risk.

It is absolutely stunning to me how badly people miss the point on here. You really wouldn't be annoyed if I scheduled a meeting with you, decided to make the meeting about something else and then basically acted like I was being a good guy when it was clear I was trying to milk as much as possible out of the deal in a meeting I lied about the purpose of while I was wasting your time? Would you then want some angry asshole on the internet to mock you and call you a precious snowflake? You wouldnt? Bizarre, you seemed to think being an ass like that was pretty reasonable.

> You really wouldn't be annoyed.....

You're absolutely right, I would. The OP has a point.

But let's be honest here, we're talking about a multi billion dollar company with thousands of employees, now traded on the stock market, so presumably aggressively trying to spin a profit.

Expecting said company to be "nice" is naive at best.

So what is wrong with documenting them not being nice? I have no issue seeing this. I'm an ex-fb employee myself and I saw behavior like this constantly. I'm just amazed at how angry it seems to make people that this guy reacted angrily to a situation where most others would have done the exact same.

> So what is wrong with documenting them not being nice?

Nothing wrong with it at all. Go for it.

Let me know how that works out.

It's sad that we have to assume the worst, isn't it? I expect honesty in business dealings, large or small. That doesn't preclude me from having some mean lawyers on my side to ensure I'm covered, but the up-front negotiations aren't driven by them. I'd walk out too.

> It's sad that we have to assume the worst, isn't it?

Yes, I agree that it is a sad state of affairs.

Whether you accept it or not, this is the world we've created for ourselves.

(Obviously you do accept it, as evidenced by the lawyers you mention)

The world hasn't ended yet; not accepting things you think are wrong is what creates the world for ourselves.

You think expecting a company to behave is naive?

What a depressing statement. Doubtless true but what a revealing and totally awful thing to take for granted. So now we live in a world in which not only are corporations people (thank you Judge Roberts) but they are psychopaths with no social conscience and we all take that pathology for granted. Enjoy the next century. :)

Did you not know corporations are psychopaths? It's true.


While I agree with your assessment of how the platform dev relations guy should have been expected to toe the FB line, I do have to say that I highly respect Dalton for clearly stating he had no interest in the acquihire.

In fact, this completely confirms my previous post from two weeks ago:

>All these aquisitions are more insidious, they are being done by the big players to stifle diversity in the market and continue to solidify their leads on online services under the guise of talent acquisition to better their companies - rather its an effort to prevent that talent from building something that would be a detriment to their positions

As well as:

>The acquiring of the teams is defensive in that they take that team and their IP etc off the market from their competition. It is offensive in that it squashes any possibility that whatever service it was the startup had would compete for their similar service.


>Attention is the resource that social services are harvesting from their users and monetizing.


Companies that provide features, utility and services that keep the attention of users (especially when providing no physical product) are those that will have longevity.

So, capturing those that would build things that direct user attention away from your product is critical to these huge companies.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4272331

> I do have to say that I highly respect Dalton for clearly stating he had no interest in the acquihire.


It seems like Dalton was under the impression that he was rather explicitly threatened with being denied access to the Facebook platform through a change in terms of service, in a way that is critical to his business. That's a strong-handed negotiation tactic for a supposed business infrastructure provider.

I do wonder how many people in Facebook actually think of their company as a "business infrastructure provider".

Strong handed and entirely legitimate.

All's fair in business is a bullshit perspective. It's the self justification of those who want to engage in behavior they know is sociopathic.

Deception is occasionally a necessary tactic, but it would be insane to try to argue that it is a behavior that creates economic value. It should not be the expected default behavior, and in fact, is not. Which is why there are both civil and criminal penalties for fraud.

Deceptive behavior that is less than fraud may not be illegal, but it's still shame worthy in my view.

I've been seeing comments like the one you have responded to more and more here. Commenters seemingly confusing legality with ethics and politeness, or perhaps mistakenly thinking that the later two do not exist.

If we swapped out companies with strangers and HN with facebook, would these people be responding to their friends posting venting comments about whistlers on the bus to work with "It's a free country, they are allowed to whistle on the bus, so shutup."? To be honest, I don't think so. I think the reason this reply is absurd is patently is likely obvious to them when the subject of the criticism does not involve a corporation. It seems as far as they are concerned, as soon as a company enters the picture, all criticisms become invalid if they do not involve law-breaking.

Why this is the case I can only guess.

> Why this is the case I can only guess.

Because in contemporary North American culture the expectation for a company is basically sociopathic behavior within the law. But the expectation for an individual person is ethically aware and polite behavior in the face of public scrutiny.

Yes. Our business culture is rotten. I think it's a huge drag on our economy we don't criticize enough.

Too many people playing poker games instead of building a world where we all get better lives.

I was thinking about this earlier, and it occurred to me that "expect" has two meanings in a way.

I expect companies to not act ethically. In other words, I think of myself as a realist and this just seems to be how companies are going to act.

On the other hand, I expect them to act ethically. Meaning ethical behaviour is the behaviour that I demand from them.

Like when a parent says to their teenage kid who refuses to study for an exam, "Well I expect you to get an A". They don't expect that, but they do expect that of them.

Maybe these two sorts of "expect" get shorted out when corporations enter the picture? On the other hand, perhaps the expectation of a corporation in both senses really is sociopathic behaviour. All that "duty to the shareholders" crap...

Just because it's legitimate doesn't mean it's not asshole-ish.

I could invite you over to my house for dinner, and then ask you to pay for the raw materials after you've eaten. Legitimate, but still asshole-ish.

Legitimate is a low-bar.

If Microsoft was the company involved everyone would be crying fowl about how they are a monopoly and this is the ultimate evil.

This is exactly how Microsoft behaved in the 90s.

You mean if this was 10 years ago. I haven't heard anyone use Microsoft and monopoly in the same sentence for years.

The phrase has a bit of renewed meaning with the Windows 8 Hardware Certification and its affect on open source / free operating systems.

But not very constructive.

wait, what? how?

Sure.. it is legitimate. But Dalton has the right to say as loudly as he can what Facebook's negotiation tactics are. And other developers have the right to stop developing on the Facebook platform because of it.

It may be legitimate, but that doesn't mean there aren't consequences.

How many developers would continue using Facebook's platform if they knew Facebook would kill their product on a whim?

> How many developers would continue using Facebook's platform if they knew Facebook would kill their product on a whim?

Those exact words have been uttered about both Microsoft and Apple in the past. Both have been wildly successful. At the end of the day developers will follow where the money is and absorb the risk.

> supposed business infrastructure provider

Sorry but I don't think you know what those words mean.

People who do, know that the business of an infrastructure providers revolves around SLAs and contracts.

Ad publishers and public communications media are marketing infrastructure.

I don't get it either. Last week this guy wanted to make some sort of paid Open Twitter competitor. This week he's mad at Facebook for offering to acquire his company rather than simply build a first party feature!

No good deed goes unpunished. Moreover, it's just not smart to publicly pick a fight with Facebook after they offered to acquire you. If you're the guys on the other side of the table, you might well brand this guy "unreasonable" and reckon that Kevin Systrom beat him once (score of $1B to $0), and Kevin is now playing for Facebook.

Seriously, this was not a good move on Dalton's part. As for this ("perhaps the public markets...will give you the time and goodwill to fix the obvious structural flaws"), he must be joking. Facebook has helicopter problems. Their dilemma is whether they are worth 20 billion dollars or 100 billion dollars. For Dalton to lecture Zuck in this tone, when Zuck has lapped him like 1 billion times over, and after they extended him a hand in good faith...just not smart.

This post is not about being acuhired at all. Read it again. His main thesis has been in the last couple of blog posts is:

Social media platforms should not be ad-supported.

This is just a continuation of that theme. He's saying, ~Your employees are doing asshole things to 3rd party developers, even though you're calling it a platform, because they have bad incentives, and that bad incentive is coming from the search for ad revenue~

Essentially, he's not so much mad at Mark, or even really caring whether Mark reads it or not. This is another piece of proof (to him and others that might listen), that social media platforms should not be ad-supported.

"The only way to get fulfillment is to help other people that believe what you believe." - Simon Sinek

You should watch the TED video where Simon Sinek talks about this. Dalton is basically putting this crazy idea out there about a non-ad supported social media platform (gasp!), and trying to find people who believes what he believes.

IMHO - smart reply. This is indeed the essence of DC's point.

"the firm seems to be acting 100% reasonably."

And, as a for profit business, they don't even have to hit anywhere near 100%. They just have to do well enough in how they operate not to loose business or somehow jeopardize what they have. It's really that simple.

This is a story that prior to the Internet nobody would ever hear about. No journalist would tell this story except in a magazine piece maybe that had an agenda and wanted to paint a picture.

This tale goes nowhere near even scratching the surface of how business operates. Spying. Payoffs. "Cut off their air supply" (Microsoft/Netscape)

Here's a story from when I started in business years ago. I called a friend of my fathers for a reference on someone who had worked with him in the past. He said "hmm, Bob left his job? Hmm." and then gave me a nice reference on him. Before I knew it he had hired Bob and basically told him "he's a startup you are wasting your time". I lost out on hiring Bob. This was a friend of the family. That may or may not be how any one of us would operate but in business as you say you can't be "a precious snow flake".

Near the bottom of this page is this exchange:

natrius: "Did they threaten to revoke API access?" (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4325586)

dalton: "yep. That was presented as an option they could use by one exec, on a phone call." (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4325593)

I mostly agree with you, but I don't really buy the line that they were offering him millions of dollars for his company (I assume the aqui-hire would be in that range) as "a courtesy".

What they'd really be paying for is avoiding exactly this situation they're in now, with him talking quite loudly about how they shut him down. Can't blame 'em for trying, but they need to suss out their target a bit better before threatening them.

So, you think Dalton refused a few million dollars (almost all acqui-hires would enrich a founder that much) so that he could complain publicly?

Or is Dalton complaining publicly now in the hopes that Facebook will pay him more later than they would have if he'd just gone along with their proposal now?

(Honestly curious: I do not have an opinion yet.)

I think Dalton is in it for a cause, and a belief. A belief that he has strengthened and reinforced in his mind for months. One that he is totally convinced is true. And right here he demonstrated the strength of that belief and of his cause. He could essentially have sold his soul to the devil and been rich and happy, or stuck with his belief, and he stuck with it.

Whether or not he is right, I'll give him a lot of respect for sticking with his guns and turning down something so outrageously tempting that hardly anyone else has turned down ever, just to chase his dreams. Props Dalton, and whether or not you get it, you deserve congrats and success for this.

You are on the right track. Couple points to round it off: 1. Dalton is questioning the dominant business model online & fired his first salvo via join.app.net. 2. As a vocal spokesman for a pro-user & pro-developer platform design, he's got to rally his forces. No wonder he is gunning for the big ones - the first indication was his response to Fred Wilson's post (http://daltoncaldwell.com/fred-wilson-is-wrong-about-free).

Give me a break. He didn't have this idea back in June. It was a result of his twitter and Facebook platform experiences.

I agree. I think this is the culmination of a lot of thinking that started with his experience with the music business.

I don't really think anything about Dalton's motivations, I was commenting more that FB was attempting to buy an amicable outcome. They sort of made a mess of it, but I think that was their intent.

When I do think about Dalton's motivations, I think he made a very risky bet and lost, and he's probably a bit angry with himself as much as he is with anyone else. Nothing wrong with that, I'd probably feel the same way.

> "Your team doesn’t seem to understand that being “good negotiators” vs implying that you will destroy someone’s business built on your “open platform” are not the same thing."

It's Facebook's platform. Sometimes they are going to create internal products that compete with developers' ideas. The fact that they brought you in, explained what they were doing, and raised the possibility that they were willing to give you what I assume to be a boatload of cash to compensate you for your efforts seems almost comically generous to me.

The simple fact of the matter is that they CAN crush your business. They seem to be cognizant of that fact and were wiling to do something to help you. All I can say is that I'll bet most people reading this wish they had this kind of "problem" and would be writing "thank you" letters to Mark Zuckerberg, even if we ultimately rejected the offer. The title of this story could easily have been "This Just In: Facebook Has a Heart".

Totally agree with you. It's a game, FB used hard tactics, now he is using public sentiment. It is just an money game in the end. Blog posts like this just hurt both companies perceptions.

Seems to me that you are missing the key point.

If FB did not declare itself a platform...if it had not encouraged others to build on its platform...if it had not encouraged DC to build his product on this platform...then you would be right. But if you are a platform, if you do encourage others to build on your platform (which is the whole point) and if you encourage a company to continue developing a product then it is not right. It may be realpolitik. It may be that having done all those things the platform company realizes that something it has encouraged is more strategic than it had realized, that it doesn't want a third party owning that product and it has to reel back its promises (which is what is sounds like here) but that is (a) a crippling result for the poor developer who took you at your word, and (b) and blow to your credibility as a platform. One incident like this won't kill you. Two won't. But at some point people just won't develop on your platform because there's no trust. ALL successful platforms have to walk this tightrope. Some do it better than others.

Can't tell if this is a poem or not...

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