Facebook CTO Bret Taylor says that Microsoft’s success as a platform company can be traced back to its great relationships with developers.
Responding to a question at the Inside Social Apps conference about what he’d talk to Bill Gates about over lunch, Taylor responded by saying “one thing that Microsoft did really well is build an extremely good developer relations team, and really focused on developers as one of their core constituents.”
He’s right: Microsoft insiders still speak highly of the company’s early efforts with its Developer Relations Group, which was responsible for promoting Windows and convincing third-party developers to create applications for the platform. Microsoft still has a huge presence among developers, with more than 6 million developers using the company’s Visual Studio platform to build apps.
Taylor said that Facebook views users as its top priority, but places developers and advertisers on equal ground right behind them.
In other words, Facebook has far larger ambitions than being a high-traffic Web site that makes its money by funelling users to advertisers — the model used by Yahoo, Google, and other ad-supported Web sites. It wants to become the default platform for social networking across Web sites, third-party apps, mobile platforms, and anywhere else that people want to use the Internet to interact with friends.
When asked what Bill Gates might talk to him about, Taylor responded “I’m not sure he knows who I am, so he’d probably ask me ‘Who are you?'”