Lessons From A Successful Facebook Application Team

This morning I had the fortune to speak with Tim Suzman, one of the developers of the immensely popular Graffiti application. Graffiti allows users to draw images and post them on your profile. While many people have posted less mature images, there are some amazing works that have been done. I have posted a couple of them at the end of this post. Be sure to check them out! Tim is a graduate of Brandeis university and is working on developing Facebook applications full-time with his team.

You have the 4th most popular application on Facebook with almost 4 million users as of today. Did you expect the application to be such a big hit?
We knew there was huge potential as soon as we saw the platform, though we obviously didn’t fully know what to expect… but once we launched a few days later, we could see almost immediately what was going to happen. Only grew to 40 users or so on the first day I think, but it was completely viral.

I see that there two other developers listed: Ted (who I’m assuming is your brother) and Mark Kantor. Are all 3 of you developers?
Yeah Ted is my brother. The three of us have been working together for several years. Ted and I do development, Mark does tons of other stuff, it works out great.

What challenges did you face in launching the Graffiti application?
I think we stayed up for three days straight without a minute of sleep 🙂 And then we’d never scaled anything before past a single shared server. It was pretty wild trying to keep up, though magically Ted somehow knew what he was doing.

Your hard work is obviously paying off. How many offers have you received from others to be acquired or partner?
Maybe 6? Yeah about 6.

Any wild offers?
A couple were quite serious… but we’re not in a big hurry to get rid of this thing. Like I said earlier we’ve been working together for several years, and now that we’ve got a kind of hit, it’s really fun.

Have you come up with any effective ways of monetizing the application?
We haven’t had time to experiment much, but we threw a few ads on there which works out well enough.

There are thousands of developers and entrepreneurs that are working hard to duplicate your success. What advice would you provide to them?
The viral growth has slowed down compared to what we saw in the first couple of weeks, but there’s still a huge opportunity for new Facebook applications. I think we’re going to see some really great things in the coming weeks, and there’s room for those to grow. Some people have expressed concern that there’s a kind of unfair feedback loop — the most popular applications show up on the “recently popular list” and the “most users list” in the directory, and thus get a lot more exposure. But from what we can tell, most of our new users are not coming from the directory at all, so I don’t think it really matters that much. Just focus on making something awesome that takes advantage of the benefits of the Facebook platform.

Do you and your team have any other applications in the pipeline?

Is there anything else that you would like to have mentioned on AllFacebook?
Some of the graffiti people have drawn has been incredible… several people have reported spending over 15 hours on a single piece. We’re working now on making a kind of public Gallery feature that people can submit their graffiti to for everyone to see. That’s our next step for Graffiti. Also, we are looking for an awesome developer who likes the startup environment.

Below are a couple drawings completed on the Graffiti application by Jeff Cattie:

Beethoven drawn with Graffiti

Violin drawn with Graffiti