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Does Facebook now embody maturity?

Matt Kapko | May 6, 2014
An estimated 1,500 developers gathered last week at F8, Facebook's first conference in almost three years, to learn about the latest updates to social network's platform. The atmosphere throughout the event was that of a very grown-up and increasingly serious business.

Facebook had all the appearances and gusto of a grown-up company at F8 last week, its first developer's conference in almost three years. The company's rising sophistication was on display throughout the event, but it was even more abundant as founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered his opening keynote.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addresses the audience during his keynote address at Facebook's F8 developers conference in San Francisco last week.

The sentiment sounds overly simple and altruistic, but it's also a far cry from much of the way Facebook was built, designed and operated over the past decade. It's not like Facebook didn't care about its users or developers before. It certainly couldn't have become a platform with 1.2 billion active users if that were the case. It's just that today's Facebook is becoming much more serious and business-like in its endeavors.

"We used to have this famous mantra. Move fast and break things," says Zuckerberg. Those days are mostly gone though, taking some of the thrill and unexpectedness out of Facebook's sails with it.

Facebook's New Rallying Cry

"Now what we do is focus on building the best tools and infrastructure in the industry," he says. Zuckerberg even went so far as to suggest a new rallying cry that tries to stay hip while hitting all the notes one would expect to hear from such a uniquely empowered company. "Move fast with stable infra" just doesn't have the same ring to it, but that's how Facebook operates now.

That new theme may not be the best calling card for developers who like to break things before building something even better to put it in its place, but stable infrastructure is important to developers who make their living off Facebook's platform. Compared to the sometimes abrupt and more controversial changes introduced in the past, Facebook's gentler approach somehow exemplifies all the experience and struggles of a young startup that is now the largest media channel to ever exist.

Breaking things just doesn't work for a company that now handles 470 billion API calls a day, a 20-times increase over the last three years. That smash-it-up mentality was ceremoniously supplanted at F8 by more serious developer needs like a promise to keep all APIs stable and operational for at least two years and a new service level agreement wherein Facebook commits to fix all major bugs within 48 hours.

"The best way we can help you improve people's lives and improve the world is provide you with a stable mobile platform," says Zuckerberg.

Users appreciate stability too, but that isn't what creates the emotional connections that make Facebook such an important part of so many people's lives. It only makes those connections possible and lasting.

 

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