The Platform Discussion

Max Levchin had a huge opportunity to grill the individuals responsible for the largest social platforms on the web at Web 2.0 Summit today, unfortunately he didn’t seize the moment. The CEO of Slide, led a discussion about the state of platforms and where it’s going among Vic Gundotra of Google, David Treadwell of Microsoft, Amit Kapur of MySpace, and Elliot Schrange of Facebook. Ultimately much, if not all, of the discussion was high-level and focused on the theoretical evolution of platforms.

The only brief disagreement during the conversation was between David Treadwell of Microsoft and Vic Gundotra from Google who disagreed about the future of open platforms. It was a disagreement over theoretical things though. If you wanted to know how MySpace’s Data Availability project is going and how many sites have implemented it so far, there were no answers.

There was a huge opportunity to address the current conflict between the “open stack” and Facebook Connect but unfortunately it wasn’t discussed. Why did it lack such conflict? Well one can assume that Max Levchin’s current dependance on many of the platforms on stage was definitely one part of it.

Whatever the reason was for a lack of conflict on stage, Elliot Schrange took the opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding the inherent conflict between developers and platform owners. Schrange stated that, “When things are happening quickly, it’s wrong to think that the communication should be bi-directional (between developers and platform owners)”.

It’s clear that there is always a substantial amount of tension between developers and platform owners and on social platforms that tension is extremely transparent. Recently when Facebook redesigned the site, and the Facebook platform, many applications were pushed from the top rankings. With the opening of all the social platforms and now mobile platforms the challenges for developers have increased and determining a business strategy is more challenging.

Unfortunately, practically none of the conversation today surrounded the tension existing between the large platforms though. For now the stories of platforms and the developers on them will be left to the blogs and back-channel conversations.