Facebook apps all grown up: four to watch

Facebook apps all grown up: four to watch

Down in Palo Alto this week,'s C.G. Lynch examined a slew of start-ups that have built cool features into apps and services that allow people and businesses to utilize Facebook for more than just games. Here are his favorites.

Although it got its start by enabling people to throw virtual pies at each other and turn themselves into vampires and werewolves, the Facebook ecosystem is growing up before our very eyes.

On Tuesday, at Facebook's old offices in downtown Palo Alto, investors, media and bloggers saw what innovative startups have been building this summer on top of the Facebook platform, the main piece of technology that allows developers to program applications that work in tandem with the social network. These apps, sites and services signal a departure from the things that have typified the Facebook platform's early iteration.

These are a lot more than just games.

This summer, around 20 startups toiled away in Facebook's old offices in Palo Alto, tinkering with their products and trying to differentiate themselves from an already crowded marketplace of companies looking to build a business on the social network. The program is part of Facebook's fbFund Rev, a $10 million incubator program fueled by the social network and two venture capital firms. The goal is to breathe life into small startups to get up and going until they can obtain more seed funding from investors.

Unlike the first iteration of the Facebook platform, these next wave of apps are less reliant on running just on Facebook; they run as standalone sites or services. Many design their products to work with other social networks, too, such as Twitter.

To work with Facebook, however, they utilize Facebook Connect, a technology that enables users to log into third-party sites using their Facebook log-in and password.

Once there, the activities they perform on that site can be streamed back into Facebook and viewed by friends. As a result, in recent months, we've seen more traditional websites and services being able to tap into the Facebook platform.

While several of the startups were interesting, four stuck out for me during the presentations ( Inside Facebook listed all of them in its post from the event).

1. Thread wants to set you up on your next date. The concept, according to its founders, is simple: Friends of friends are the best people to date. Logging in with your Facebook credentials, you can see those friends and their friends, and send a message to your mutual friend to see if it might be a good fit. This startup was the darling of the lot, as it garnered $1.2 million in seed funding as a result of its work this summer.

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