Don’t drink and code? Alley VC firm Union Square Ventures hosted the latest in a series of “hackathons” last night for coders working on projects using Facebook‘s white-hot applications platform. As USV host Andrew Parker notes, booze-fuelled socializing among the 50 or so attendees — and gawking at the few present iPhones — prevented much work from getting done.
A few demos looked promising, especially as coders try to figure out ways to make money from their Facebook widgets. Photojojo‘s Amit Gupta showed off a new app called Amazin’ Giftbox that he’s developing with Gil Megidish, which turns Amazon.com’s inventory into a giant Facebook gift box. Users can “gift” each other anything Amazon sells, which shows up in their profile as a small image linking to the Amazon product page. If anyone clicks through and buys something, the developers get a small cut through Amazon’s affiliate program. To date, about 1,800 people have added the app to their profile.
But it’s still not clear if the Facebook app platform has enough juice yet to support any really useful tools. Some coders complained that Facebook hasn’t given them enough access or control to build anything powerful. Money quote: “Most of the Facebook apps you see now would take a real developer less than two days to build,” Tumblr‘s David Karp recalls someone saying. “Because none of them really… do anything.”