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Why Facebook Hired David Weekly

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Developers in Silicon Valley don't trust Facebook, writes Owen Thomas:

How Facebook snapped up Weekly isn't the key question, though: It's what he must do now for the social network.

While Facebook has had several talented executives running its platform efforts, not since Dave Morin, an early Facebook employee who's now CEO of Path, left the company three years ago has it had such a charismatic figure who's likely to be seen by developers as one of their own.

In its early days, the Facebook platform was seen as a level playing field for app developers. Now, many developers are frustrated by Facebook's ever-changing policies

Facebook is blocking services it deems competitive from accessing features like users' lists of friends—a trend that began with Twitter, back in 2010. More recently, Facebook cut off a social search service from Russian search engine Yandex; Vine, a video-sharing app from Twitter; and MessageMe, a messaging app.

Facebook has also changed the frequency and prominence with which updates posted by apps appear in users' feeds and profiles. Zynga was hard-hit last year when Facebook altered its algorithms, though other makers of social games managed to ride out the changes. As a result, Zynga is pulling away from Facebook.

And Facebook has even cut back on F8, its quasi-annual conference for developers it launched along with the Facebook platform in 2007. None was held last year, and no date has been announced for a new one. (Facebook has continued to hold smaller events and attend industry events.)

As mobile-device usage grows, app developers have gained more options for distribution. On the desktop, Facebook had no real challenger which could deliver anywhere near the level of user signups and traffic it could to apps that chose its platform. But Apple's App Store and Google Play offer new channels for acquiring users.

Facebook's best hope in mobile is to court developers, pushing mobile-app installations through its App Center, a curated directory of Facebook-linked services, and ads which encourage users to download apps. Indeed, many of Facebook's own events now focus specifically on mobile developers.

Against this backdrop, Weekly has a big challenge. But the gregarious and hyperconnected Weekly seems like the perfect person to win friends for Facebook.

Facebook and Twitter no longer run annual developer conferences.

Google and Apple do.

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