By now, many of you have heard a lot about Facebooks F8 Platform, a set of services that allows 3rd parties to build applications into Facebooks site. Since Facebook launched their platform on May 24th, companies and developers have released hundreds of applications that now entertain, delight and overwhelm Facebook users everywhere.
On June 29, we here at Yahoo! Music released our Music Videos application, which lets users post music videos from our extensive catalog to their Facebook Profile, and allows them to dedicate videos to their friends. This release capped a crazy month-long period that started when Matt Kozlov, of our Corporate Strategy group, and I attended the F8 launch. We were impressed at the applications that were already being showcased by developers who had gotten in the game early. Over the following weekend, our General Manager of Music, Ian Rogers, tracked the explosive growth of music applications like iLike, which quickly gained hundreds of thousands of users.
By the following Monday night, Ian was
nagging, er, urging us to get into the game. On Tuesday I hijacked half of a meeting with my product colleagues Lucas Gonze and Roberto Fisher, and whipped up a crappy, off-the cuff product spec centered around music videos (one of our premier products), and the next day I handed a hand-drawn spec to Jim Bumgardner, one of our crack engineers.
That week, we enlisted the help of our very talented designers Ruth Kaufman and Lino Weihen. As Jim dug into the APIs, Ruth and Lino iterated on designs, adjusting as Jim discovered what was possible and what wasnt, removing functionality that would have been hard and adding features that created more virality (like the video dedications, a weekend brainstorm of Jims).
We evolved the application to take particular advantage of the social networking elements of the APIs, including access to a users friend list and the contents of their profile, like their favorite bands. The application enables users to post our music videos to their profile pages, and lets the user draw from videos from their favorite artists as well as their friends favorite artists. The APIs also allowed us to take advantage of the update features in Facebook, such as the news feed that tells you what your friends are doing, but at the same time puts in limitations to avoid spam, like preventing you from inviting more than 10 friends at once (this last one was new in the first couple of weeks, applications could invite all of your friends, but facebook later clamped down).
Somewhere along the way, Ian decided he wanted something launched by the end of June, so the team moved fast, with Jim working on this in his spare time, but still making good progress. After two weeks of prototyping and designing, the team started development in earnest. Two more weeks later, they were done. On Thursday, June 28th we had our final meeting to review the finished product.
And I must say, it rocked.
As we thoroughly reviewed it to make the go/no-go decision, Jerry Yang (our CEO) and Jeff Weiner (head of the Yahoo! Networks Division, of which Yahoo! Music is a part) happened to be in our Santa Monica offices. This is rare, since most of the senior executives work up North (as we call it) in Sunnyvale. While our team of product, design, engineering and marketing folks reviewed the application, Ian was showing it to Jerry and Jeff. They walked by the conference room in which we were meeting, and Jerry opened the door.
"Ship it!" he told us.
Who am I to argue with the CEO?
So we launched it the next day.
Over the weekend, the reviews came in. FaceReviews.com, a site specializing in the cottage industry of analyzing Facebook applications, wrote:
"Yahoo has joined facebook and hit a home run in the process with the Yahoo Music Videos Application. This is an official application from Yahoo Music. This application is one of the best designed, executed and deeply integrated facebook applications we have seen yet. The user interface is amazing and very intuitive."
Others were also positive, though of course I chose the most glowing one to quote directly.
Over the past couple of weeks, weve seen modest growth. Nothing like iLike, but were happy to be bringing music videos to the Facebook audience and have some ideas on how to improve uptake of the application. Most importantly, we got ourselves out there where users are already.
If youd like to read about this crazy journey from the perspective of Jim Bumgardner, hes posted on his experiences on our semi-official Yahoo! Music blog.
Oh, and if you want to get the Facebook application, check it out at: http://apps.facebook.com/yahoomusicvideos/
Director of Product Management, Yahoo! Music