paul buchheit – Stay N Alive

With Facebook Messages, Has Facebook Reached FriendFeed Nirvana?

There’s no doubt of the FriendFeed team’s influence on Facebook after they were acquired a year ago.  Bret Taylor, CEO of FriendFeed is now the CTO of Facebook after all.  Even before the acquisition of FriendFeed, Facebook was taking cues from the service, adding “like” buttons to posts, something available on FriendFeed for quite some time, and turning on a pseudo-real-time stream, a token of what made people love or hate FriendFeed.  With Facebook Messages, Facebook has added yet an additional piece of the FriendFeed puzzle – that of messaging, something FriendFeed added only months before their acquisition to Facebook, but what happened to be one of my favorite parts of FriendFeed.  The idea being that, in real-time, I could post private messages to individual friends or groups, and see the updates happen in a thread, in real-time, with that individual for that message.  In addition, I could set notification settings – whether I got notified by e-mail or IM when new messages appeared.  Lastly, my ( automatically places any message sent to it into my personal inbox.  Sound familiar?

I thought I’d go through the various features Facebook has integrated that FriendFeed had first:

  • The “like” button
  • Real-time stream
  • Real-time group messaging and e-mail addresses for those groups
  • Integration with Twitter (Facebook only does this with Pages at the moment)
  • usernames
  • Real-time direct messaging
  • e-mail address for each user profile
  • Notification preferences for messaging
  • Simplified API – OAuth WRAP Authorization (now OAuth 2.0 on Facebook)

With the new Messaging product, Facebook has pretty much fully absorbed FriendFeed’s best features.  The only thing left for Facebook is a more real-time stream that auto-updates (right now I have to click to get real-time to update on Facebook), and a better search product.  Paul Buchheit, co-founder of FriendFeed, who recently left Facebook to join Y-Combinator, stated that one of his last projects upon leaving was a search product.  Could that be the icing on the cake?

Paul Buchheit mentioned that a beautiful butterfly would emerge as a result of the FriendFeed acquisition.  With the final pieces of Facebook Messages coming into place, I think we’re finally seeing that.  In an interview I did with Paul at Facebook’s F8 conference earlier this year Paul suggested that the Butterfly he was inferring was “all around us”, and that “the butterfly is not one, but multiple butterflies that permeate both FriendFeed and the Facebook Platform, and will continue to grow.”

FriendFeed has indeed permeated the Facebook environment.  Facebook is more open.  They’re more beautiful.  They’re more functional and more useful.   For the die-hard FriendFeed fans like myself out there, it’s becoming much much harder to deny the fact that Facebook is very quickly absorbing the usefulness of FriendFeed one feature at a time.

For those still using the service, what else does Facebook need to add to make FriendFeed completely useless?

You can always follow me on FriendFeed, for which I occasionally still check and always read comments, at  Or, feel free to like me at or friend me at and we can talk further about this.

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The Butterflies are "All Around Us" – My Interview With Paul Buchheit, CoFounder of FriendFeed

I had the opportunity to spend a brief few minutes with Paul Buchheit, co-creator of, which was recently acquired by Facebook end of last year.  In our interview, I asked Paul where “the Butterfly” was that was mentioned by him shortly after the acquisition (you can read more about that here).  Paul seemed much more enthusiastic than Bret Taylor was when I asked him in the Press Conference earlier in the day.  In short: the butterfly is not one, but multiple butterflies that permeate both FriendFeed and the Facebook Platform, and will continue to grow.

In conversation after the interview, Paul mentioned while not as much resources were put into FriendFeed as before, he was still releasing updates and continuing to do so.  He even hinted at the potential for better Facebook integration now that the 24 hour storage limit has been lifted from the Facebook Platform. (He mentioned that was the biggest impact on them not integrating Facebook Connect more, and as a developer, I agree)  Paul reminded me that they’re still releasing features (the most recent being just a few weeks ago), and their move to the new Facebook-hosted servers which they’re currently hosted on.

When asked which developer platform to develop for, Paul’s answer was to look at your needs.  Facebook Platform of course has over 400+ million users, while with FriendFeed you may get some added aggregation capabilities you wouldn’t get from Facebook.  You could tell by his voice that he still has a deep love for FriendFeed, and seemed to have no intentions to abandon it.  In fact, his entire presentation (you can watch here – click on “previous sessions” on the right) was around the Tornado Framework which FriendFeed is based on, something Facebook doesn’t really have intention on integrating into their own environment.

So, it would appear, that the butterflies he mentioned earlier are none other than the Open Graph API, the move from centralized data silos, to an entire web of meta-linked data which is unreliant on any one source to get at the data.  The butterfly that has emerged has transformed into many, which anyone, anywhere on the web can gain access.

The full interview can be found on my Cinch page – you can listen to it below:

Speculation: Expect Something BIG in the Area of Real-Time at F8

I don’t do speculative posts like this too often, except around Facebook’s F8 developer events for the most part.  The last one I predicted was that Facebook would announce a Mobile Platform at F8 – the announcement did occur along with Facebook Connect.  The first F8 was the announcement of the Facebook API, which revolutionized Social Development and has left players like Google scrambling to play catch up since.  Now, 2 years since the last F8, the next F8 has been announced, and we are all wondering what the next big announcement will be.  If it is to be in line with the last 2, and, considering they waited 2 years to have another one, they have to be announcing something game-changing.  I predict it directly involves some of the FriendFeed team and it’s directly related to real-time.

First of all, let me preface this with the fact that I am not receiving this data from any inside contacts at Facebook, nor have I been told anything the rest of the world doesn’t already know.  This is pure speculation – I hope it’s taken as such.  I am also certainly not a psychic.  I think if you look at some of the hints though, you can see the potential for something big, perhaps FriendFeed 3.0-like (remember, FriendFeed 2.0 was the advent of their real-time stream you see now) about to happen at Facebook.  Here are my reasons for thinking such:

What is Paul Buchheit Working on?

Paul Buchheit, one of the founders of FriendFeed, creator of Gmail, and now working at Facebook after FriendFeed was acquired, hasn’t yet made it evident exactly what he’s working on.  We know Bret Taylor, also a founder, is now Director of Product for Facebook, and working heavily with the Facebook APIs and the new Roadmap Facebook has laid out for developers.  We know Kevin Fox, pretty much the man behind all the design of FriendFeed, has been working on the new Games and Apps dashboard that Facebook just launched (that you can see on the left-hand side of Facebook).

But what is Paul Buchheit working on?  He recently commented stating he is definitely not working on Facebook’s new e-mail product that they have been rumored to be working on to replace their current inbox structure.  I’m not sure anyone has specifically stated exactly whether he’s working on the Facebook developer platform now or not.  He seems to be doing something big, and he’s certainly been studying Google Buzz recently if you look over his FriendFeed stream lately.

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Then there’s that “Butterfly” post.  Paul Buchheit specifically stated when Robert Scoble, Steve Gillmor, and others were all pressuring Facebook to make a statement on what they were going to do with FriendFeed that “the team is working on a couple of longer-term projects that will help bring FriendFeedy goodness to the larger world.”  He then continued, “Transformation is not the end. Consider this the chrysalis stage — if all goes well, a beautiful butterfly will emerge”.

The mystery in all this is that Facebook has not yet released anything even remotely similar to what Paul described yet.  Paul’s a really smart guy.  He’s not just going to work on something mediocre for Facebook – whatever it is, it has to be game changing.  I really believe that whatever it is will blow our minds away when it happens.  The FriendFeed team doesn’t just innovate.  They revolutionize.  I don’t believe they would still be at Facebook if they didn’t have that opportunity.

Facebook’s Needs

Then there’s the lack of any real-time APIs or architecture at Facebook.  I have to click on the page to have it refresh.  Frankly, I think that fits their current audience of 400 million+ “average Joes” well.  It doesn’t tap into the news-seeking, data-mining, and publishing audiences very well though.  That’s what Twitter does well.  It’s what FriendFeed and Buzz also do well.  All of these come with real-time APIs and real-time searches (or “track”).

Facebook needs a real-time interface for developers still.  It needs search.  It needs search to be real-time.  It needs a public view into all of that, supported by the powerful privacy controls Facebook already has in place.  Facebook has already built out the building blocks to launch this with their recent emphasis on encouraging users to open up their posts more and at the same time enabling them to have granularity in who sees those posts.  The next natural step is to finally open up those public posts to developers, and provide a real-time interface to it all.  With a 400 million user audience, that would be game-changing in the realm of real-time data.  We ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

The Lack of any Really Big Known Announcements at F8

Lastly, we know everything else Facebook could announce at F8.  Facebook has already started rolling out credits to developers, so a payment system wouldn’t be much of a “game changer” per se.  I’m sure they’ll talk a lot about it at the conference though.  Facebook has already started rolling out its Ads API to developers.  They’ve already announced the desire to open up websites as virtual 3rd-party “Pages” on the web.  They’ve let us know just about everything in their roadmap, except the fate of FriendFeed.

Doesn’t this seem strange to you that Facebook and the FriendFeed team have been so mute on this in general for almost a year now?  What’s going on behind the scenes?  Even when asking the FriendFeed team about plans to integrate better into Facebook they have remained mute.  How cool would it be if, while everyone is ranting and raving about Google Buzz and calling FriendFeed dead, the FriendFeed team along with the incredible talent that Facebook adds to the mix have all been working on FriendFeed 3.0 behind the scenes?  What if Facebook caught wind Google was working on Buzz and bought FriendFeed in response to that rumor?  Will the “Butterfly” emerge at F8?  The chrysalis stage takes patience – I’m not giving up on FriendFeed yet.

FriendFeed Turns on the Twitter Firehose (Again)

friendfeed-logo.jpgIt seems that some time today, the FriendFeed team has just re-enabled their live Twitter stream (using Twitter’s “Birddog” API) for real-time updates from Twitter.  I noticed the update when posting a cool bookmarklet by Kynetx, and re-tested it again – sure enough the update to Twitter hit FriendFeed almost immediately after I posted it to Twitter.  Looking over FriendFeed, I learned that Paul Buchheit, one of FriendFeed’s founders now working for Facebook, confirmed this earlier today.

Long before many were embracing Twitter’s real-time stream, FriendFeed was one of the first Real-time Twitter stream consumers to take advantage of the platform.  Shortly after the Facebook acquisition the FriendFeed team turned off the real-time updates, others speculating that it was the beginning of the end for FriendFeed.  FriendFeed’s Paul Buchheit assured users that the FriendFeed team was simply working out details with the Facebook lawyers to ensure the real-time stream met up with Facebook’s stringent legal policies.  Others remained skeptical.

Tonight it appears they’ve turned that live stream on for good, and boy is it fast!  FriendFeed continues to remain one of the most powerful Twitter clients and Social Management tools out there.  I think this continues to prove that FriendFeed will continue to improve even after the Facebook acquisition.

If you’re not yet, you can follow me on FriendFeed at