August 10, 2009

Hi Facebook, It's Me, FriendFeed. This Relationship? It's Complicated.

Alright Facebook. I didn't want it to be like this, so let me tell you in a way that you'll understand. You know how you started out as a program for nerdy college boys to rate the best ladies, find which ones were available, and see if there was a way to hook up? You know how you've grown up to now be much more than that - maturing into a platform that routinely sends me Mafia Wars invitations, and wants to poke me every so often to make sure I'm around? Well congratulations. Because just like in high school, sometimes the sweaty jock who doesn't wash his hands after using the john still gets the best girl - while those of us who carried her books and wrote her poetic love letters and timed our walking to go by her locker at just the right time find ourselves on the outside looking in again.

Yeah. I get it. I get how I could BS and say "I'm happy for you." "I only want what's best for you." "Take good care of her." But look. I know your reputation. You're not trusted. I know about the other girls. I know they change - and not in a good way - after you've been with them. So yeah.

Today, you announced you were buying FriendFeed - in what looks like it might have just been a two-year-long job interview for a dozen of Google's brightest minds (courtesy of Drew Olanoff, who called immediately after news broke). It's not like we didn't really know something was up, after all - you could see in the way the FriendFeed team rolled in all giddy this morning at a time well before when they usually rise, waiting for the other shoe to drop. You could see in the way they collectively had a heart attack when I walked into their offices last week unannounced and caught them in what was called "a company meeting" - which practically needed bouncers out the door for how quickly I left.

Here's the thing. FriendFeed is the good girl. FriendFeed is the one that has a 4.0 GPA and had big dreams of an Ivy League diploma. And yet, she ends up with you - the Silicon Valley equivalent of your local state school. When you come rolling in with your heavy car, big wheels and pumping bass, we don't care how much money you say you're worth - we still don't trust your grin when you open the door and say "hop in".

So what's happening to this Valley? Is it as dire a situation as it sometimes seems? Are we really going to end up with four mega-companies: FaceBook, Google, Microsoft and Apple? Because if Google or Microsoft can weasel their way into acquiring Twitter, that's sure how it will seem. If the IPO market continues to be closed, and innovative companies can only knock on doors 1 through 4, that's not a good thing.

I don't claim to have any inside scoop on how big the rock was on that ring you got FriendFeed. I don't know whether you want to keep her a good girl, or lock her away in your closed dungeon. But all I know is that her friends are very scared for her - and we're watching you.

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