Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

Schadenfreude, Anyone? In Wake of Facebook Bullying Claims, Google+ Chief Vic Gundotra Woos Developers.

When our enemies stumble publicly, some take the high road and steer clear of mentioning our adversary’s folly. But for others, some things are just too good to pass up.

In an almost comically timed display of opportunism, Google SVP of Social Vic Gundotra did just that. After Facebook took public knocks from developer Dalton Caldwell, who in a blog post on Wednesday accused the company of shady, bullying practices surrounding its platform, Gundotra took to Google+ to post a note of reassurance to his developer base, saying in so many words: Google don’t play that.

“When we open an API, we want developers to feel confident that the innovations they build are going to be long lasting,” Gundotra wrote in his Google+ post. “Releasing an API, and then later changing the rules of the game isn’t fun for anyone, especially developers who’ve spent their life’s energies building on the platform.”

“I’m not interested in screwing over developers,” he wrote, linking directly to Caldwell’s post.

While his words don’t exactly scream “classy,” the timing is perfect for Gundotra and his team. Google+ has taken much heat from its developer base over the past months, as the social network does not have an open API for all developers. That essentially means that developers looking to build apps into Google+ can’t do so. Pointing toward Facebook’s alleged platform fumbling, or even misdeeds, takes some of the heat off of the lack of Google+ API availability.

“I’m sorry that we haven’t released a wide open write API for those of you who want one,” Gundotra wrote. “We’re being careful because we want to be different.”

What’s more, Twitter is also in the midst of a developer upheaval. Major changes are coming to the platform guidelines, ones that could leave untold third-party Twitter developers in the lurch. As I have reported previously, the company plans to clamp down on the way Twitter developers display tweets in their applications, a significant change from the company’s relatively open stance on third-party apps that utilize Twitter’s rich data stream.

In short, this couldn’t be better for Google+. While Twitter developers contemplate whether it’s worth sticking it out on the Twitter platform, a prominent Valley developer lobs damning accusations at Facebook — a company that is pushing hard to add new apps every day. Google could step in and be the white knight of the platform wars, offering to treat its developers right where its competitors have wavered.

Yet however strategic the move may be, it’s hard not to see Gundotra’s post as kicking his competitors while they’re down. With lines like these, his sense of delight is almost palpable:

“You know, [I'm] actually respectful of developers who build on our platform. It’s novel. I know.”


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald