Facebook is a big fan of moving fast, which is why it’s probably no surprise that it gave the 40 developers who first signed on to make apps for Facebook Messenger only two months to get them ready before today’s big F8 event.
“We sprinted until the very last minute,” says David McIntosh, CEO and co-founder of Riffsy, which today introduces GIF for Messenger, which does what it says on the tin.
It’s an experience shared by the three other Facebook Messenger developers that Business Insider spoke with immediately after the keynote.
Zendesk, which was highly touted during the keynote as the platform for customer support agents with retail stores to interact with customers directly over Messenger, got two months.
Bitmoji, which is already tremendously popular on Facebook thanks to its namesake custom emoji app and the Bitstrips product, got about the same for its new Bitmoji for Messenger. Riffsy, which makes the popular GIF Keyboard for iOS and whose new product will let you quickly share GIFs, got six weeks.
In all cases, though, the developers said that they had a great experience working with Facebook. In fact, they said, Facebook brought them down to the Menlo Park campus to work closely with the Messenger team as they prepared for launch day.
While it’s never easy to totally retrofit an app to work with a new platform, as Zendesk did with its signature live chat help desk platform to make it work with Messenger, “this experience has been fantastic,” says Zendesk engineering director Jason Smale.
“It’s always really exciting to go behind the curtain,” agrees Bitmoji founder and CEO Jacob Blackstock.
Developers were very excited to be able to reach new audiences in a way that reduces friction for users. After all, their users are already probably chatting away on Facebook Messenger, and it gives them a broader way to connect with them.
Facebook and its developers have sometimes been at odds. For instance, game maker Zynga had figured out how to use Facebook’s News Feed and Notifications to get new users to its games. Then, Facebook changed some fundamentals of how those platforms worked because it was concerned that app makers were “spamming” users. Zynga’s exposure dropped, and the company has never fully recovered.
But Riffsy’s McIntosh isn’t too worried about Facebook pulling the rug out.
“Facebook really thought it through,” McIntosh said, although he acknowledged it could change. “Ultimately, Facebook is going to do what’s best for Facebook,” he says.
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