Top Facebook Apps and Companies

How many companies does Facebook own?

You’ve probably heard a lot about Facebook this year. And it’s not only because it’s the most popular social network in the world, so there are good chances you use it as well. Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal shook the world in spring 2018, and the attention to this application literally skyrocketed. 

We believe that the issue is quite serious, but there are other, more positive reasons to keep up with news about Facebook. First, it’s a tech giant, so everyone who is in this industry should be at least generally aware of what’s happening there. Secondly, Facebook’s revenue just for Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2021 (the last reported quarter as of the date of this article) constituted more than $117,929 billion (Y2Y +37%).

We had a solid quarter as people turned to our products to stay connected and businesses continued to use our services to grow.

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta founder and CEO

And it’s one of the Top-10 technology companies in the world. An excellent example of startup success, everyone tech entrepreneur can learn from.

In this article, we’ll take a mini-tour across the Facebook empire and talk about the most popular apps it owns. We prepared a list of top applications that Facebook owns, its features, and its peculiarities.

Meet the Facebook Family of Apps

We will describe the following:

  1. Facebook app
  2. Messenger
  3. WhatsApp
  4. Instagram
  5. Oculus VR
  6. Masquerade (MSQRD)
  7. Whale
  8. GIPHY
  9. AUX by NPE
  10. Bump by NPE
  11. Tuned by NPE

Facebook app

It probably sounds quite obvious, but we just couldn’t ignore this application that was the very first in the collection. Facebook App was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and a few other fellows. As of September 2021, 17 years after the launch, the number of its monthly active users amounted to 2.74 billion. The Facebook app was the most downloaded app between 2010 and 2020 (businessinsider.com).

But it’s worth mentioning that the initial version of the Facebook app differed significantly from the one we are used to seeing today. Its name contained ‘the’ at the beginning, so it was ‘thefacebook.’ There were no newsfeed and ‘Like’ button either. So it was really a long road for the Facebook app to get where it’s now. Daily about 1.82 billion users visit Facebook.

Another interesting fact is that at the dawn of Facebook’s existence, Zuckerberg and other guys hacked Harvard’s computer system to copy some private information of the students who lived in the dormitory. So we can say that Facebook’s relationships with personal data protection were complicated from the very beginning.

This year Facebook rolled our new update for private education – “Educational Hub.” These resources help teachers and students to keep in touch and study remotely in connection with quarantine.

The resources include the following:

  • Anti-racism resources;
  • Self-care strategies and mental health resources (which are likely particularly important during social distancing during the pandemic);
  • “Get Digital,” a digital literacy program that includes lesson plans, online conversation starters, and online activities for students;
  • Group-focused options, including the opportunity to start or find a group of like-minded teachers, students, or parents.

Moreover, Facebook decided to go back to the original aim of the social network and launches Campus-platforms for students to chat with others, find out about upcoming events, and other online services.

Facebook DAUs were 1.93 billion on average for September 2021, an increase of 6% year-over-year.

Messenger App

Messenger is another favorite app created by Facebook. Today, this application goes hand in hand with the Facebook app itself for most smartphone users. But, actually, Messenger became available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices only in 2011. Before that, there was only the Facebook Chat that was released in 2008. But it was not a standalone application and offered a much worse user experience.

According to Statista, as of July 2021, Facebook Messenger was the second most popular messaging app in the world, has 1.3 billion monthly active users.

The most recent significant revamp of this application took place in October 2018. The updates were mainly focused on simplifying users’ life by decluttering the chat interface and reducing the number of tabs. Another change was related to personalization. Now, users can choose the display color in their conversation.

The dark mode, however, is something we expected to receive in 2019. On top of that, Facebook Messenger is going to become more ad-friendly. It’s likely that companies will receive the opportunity to create story ads if Facebook’s testing of this feature shows promising results.

The recent update #336.0 was on the 25th of October 2021. It gave the improvements and bug fixes for the latest version on Messenger.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is another messaging application Facebook owns. But unlike Messenger, WhatsApp was not made by the Facebook team — the company acquired it in 2014 for $19 billion. At that moment, the application was already quite ‘mature,’ having existed on the market for about five years.

And as we see, that was indeed a successful purchase as WhatsApp is the most popular messaging application worldwide nowadays. It has more than 2.0 billion monthly active users and ranked No.1 app by worldwide downloads.

What WhatsApp updates can we expect in 2021? Well, there is good news for companies and bad news for users. Facebook plans to put ads on WhatsApp, so you’ll see some commercial content in the application soon. According to the statistics, the number of active users will grow from 68.1 to 85.8 million.

A sad story related to these changes is that WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton left Facebook in September 2017. And rumor has it that the main reason for such a decision was their disagreement with the company’s intent to embed targeted ads in the application that was initially supposed to be advert-free. However, our team knows how to develop a WhatsApp clone app.

Instagram

Does Facebook own Instagram? Instagram is also one of the most popular applications held by Facebook. It was created in 2010, but its independent existence didn’t last for long. Facebook saw the potential in a newborn app and purchased it in April 2012 (the same month when the Android version of Instagram was released) for as little as $1 billion. Many believe that it’s the best deal in the history of Silicon Valley so far.

And it’s no wonder. As of October 2018, Instagram was one of the most used social networks globally. It has more than 1 billion monthly active users who share about 80 million photos and videos per day.

There is no official information on what new Instagram features we can expect in 2022. But some experts believe that there will be a greater focus on IGTV, which is a platform for sharing long-form vertical videos. On top of that, there are good chances that Instagram Stories will become more interactive as users will receive an opportunity to leave public comments and create multiple-choice questions.

On the 5th of August, Instagram launched a new feature – reels video. It is a 15-sec video where users can put music, text, and other effects. This feature is available only in 50 countries where music is allowed by law. Among them are the USA, Germany, France, Great Britain, and others. The creators of TikTok emphasize similarity to their social media and criticize this update of Instagram.

300 hundred million users use Facebook Stories daily compared to 500 million who use Instagram Stories every day.

Oculus VR

Oculus VR is one of the tech companies Facebook owns. It was founded in July 2012, and in March 2014, Facebook purchased it for $2.3 billion. As the name suggests, Oculus VR’s activity is mainly focused on the development of virtual reality software and hardware products.

As of today, the most famous of them is Oculus Rift — a VR headset released in March 2016. It gained popularity right after it appeared on the market. In 2017, for instance, the company sold nearly 700,000 items of this device.

Yet, there is also a dark side to the story. In 2014, ZeniMax, a well-known gaming company, filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming that Oculus Rift was built based on the stolen code and research. In December 2018, the court finally passed its verdict and awarded ZeniMax $250M in damages.

But it’s not a time to get upset for Facebook. A release of Oculus Quest, a revolutionary standalone VR headset, is planned for the spring of 2019. And it really has the potential to disrupt the tech world. This is because the announced price is more than affordable ($399), so many game players will probably want to have the device.

Masquerade (MSQRD)

This app is the least known among those mentioned in this list of apps and companies owned by Facebook. Yet, we want to say it as the application was initially built by some Belarusian guys no one knows about. This, basically, proves that even if you’re not a Silicon Valley habitat, you can create a great product Facebook will want to purchase.

What does the MSQRD app do? Well, in general, it allows its users to “play” with their selfies by placing different effects on videos in real-time. On top of that, designers can create their own filters to make videos even more fun. The price of the deal was not disclosed. But we believe there should be a lot of zeros in this number.

Whale

Memes have invaded the Internet, so it is quite understandable why this November, Facebook released a meme-making app called Whale. 

In Whale, you can select pictures from a camera or gallery on the device or even take a photo within the app to turn it into a fun meme. This app lets you add various emojis, texts, effects, and a couple of hype filters like laser eyes or vortex directly to your picture. It is even possible to make your stickers using cut & crop and drawing tools. After being completed, your funny creation can be shared with Instagram or Messenger. 

Did you know that Facebook, after the success of Clubhouse, began to actively develop a Clubhouse clone, audio with short-form Soundbites feature, and podcast support? Recently the company presented all these solutions and they are already available for some users. Read more in our article Facebook Announces New Audio Products.

GIPHY

Facebook amazed us all again in 2020 by purchasing Giphy (a huge GIF-making and sharing website) for $400 million and promising to integrate its enormous library with overly popular Instagram. Apart from Instagram, the service will be supported by Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Wow, isn’t it impressive that the users will have a set of tools for making their own GIFs and then sharing them with each other?

But will new Giphy ownership influence its regular users? Facebook says that it will absolutely not. Only the users of Instagram will enjoy the new way of sharing animated pictures and stickers. It is worth mentioning that many other giant websites like Twitter, Slack, Pinterest, and even Reddit are using GIFs created in Giphy and rely on its API. So let’s wait and see what Facebook developers have in mind and what new excellent option our favorite apps will get soon.

NPE Projects

AUX

This July, Facebook gathered NPE (New Product Experimentation) team and launched Aux – a beta version of a new music app for teens and schoolers. Aux is available for Canadian users and can be downloaded only on iOS devices. It ranked 38 among other music apps in the Canadian App Store, and this fall, the number of its downloads was only 500+. Many people have noticed that the AUX concept resembles Turntable.fm (a social media website for sharing music that was shut down in 2013). 

It is true that both solutions offer unique DJ’ing experiences; however, the core aim of Aux is a bit different. The app allows creating a so-called virtual party that all schoolers and teens can join at 9 P.M. They all can play their music and compete for “claps” to get up-voted. The musician who received more “claps” wins. We do not know what future awaits this app, but we think that it is excellent that the NPE squad creates solutions encouraging creative people to share their talents with each other. 

Bump by NPE

Facebook NPE team has recently released a freshly created app called Bump for both iOS and Android devices. This is basically an anonymous chatting app aimed to help people make friends.

 If you are wondering what makes it stand out from other alike messaging tools, the answer is – the opportunity to establish engaging communication without being distracted by pictures, videos, or links. Yes, Bump does not have any of those. You can only communicate with the help of text messages. The chatting in real-time, and answers should be sent within 30 seconds.

One more exciting feature of this app is that you can participate in one chat at a time. After the messaging is finished, two people can keep in touch further if they both agree. Kudos to NPE guys, for Bump, help people to value communication above appearance!

Tuned by NPE

Facebook launches a new messaging app called ‘Tuned,’ just for couples. A private space where you and your significant other can just be yourselves. With Tuned, you can be as mushy, quirky, and silly as you are together in person, even when you’re apart. Creatively express your love, share your mood, exchange music, and build a digital scrapbook of your special moments.

Collab by NPE

Category: Music

Collab, Facebook’s experimental app for making collaborative music videos, is today launching out of private beta testing with a public release on the App Store. The app is one of now many projects from Facebook’s internal R&D group, NPE Team, which tests new ideas that could ultimately influence Facebook’s next steps in social media. In the app, a collab could consist of a guitarist, drummer, and a singer, each playing alongside the other in their respective videos.

FAQ

How many companies does Facebook own?

Facebook, Inc. is a social networking company that has acquired 82 other companies, including WhatsApp.

Why does the NPE team create new small apps?

The idea behind every new small app developed by NPE is to check users’ engagement and offer a new digital experience. They usually make apps available in a certain country and check the activity of the audience, especially the number of downloads and users’ engagement and reviews. This allows the developers to identify what apps and features are worth being improved further and transformed into holistic app.

Does Facebook have any competitors?

Although it seems like Facebook is one-of-a-kind, it has many competitors. They all can be divided into categories according to a certain activity. F.e. Facebook’s major competitors in advertising are Google and Amazon. When it comes to video sharing, YouTube is the best platform. Such services as Pinterest and LinkedIn have the biggest user base. Chinese social platform called WeChat exceeds Facebook drastically.

Final thoughts

Facebook owns the most popular and actively used companies for the last decades. There is a vast number of users that visit websites and applications every day. And the number is still increasing and widening its boundaries.

In this article, we mentioned only the most famous apps and companies Facebook owns. Of course, there are many more of them as the general list of Facebook’s products and acquisitions also contains multiple smaller purchases. And the Facebook empire keeps growing. So if you come up with some brilliant idea Facebook finds attractive, you may really make a fortune on it. In this regard, there are, basically, two options: you can either develop an entirely new product or think about additional features to enhance the existing app.

Already have an app idea even Zuckerberg would envy?

Whale – a big update of Facebook’s meme-making App

Did you know that ten months ago, Facebook launched the Whale meme app? Yes, yes, and unlike many other solutions, this application lives on and continues to develop. The primary confirmation of this is the release of updates.

The company has a practice of launching new applications for testing through its Facebook NPE (New Product Experimentation) group. Quite often, it happens that a few months after the launch, it closes the project. As happened with Hobbi, which launched in February and was shut down four months later, TikTok rival Lasso was shut down.

The Whale is still with us, and the updates that came out the other day made it even more attractive. So what’s the innovation? The app now supports GIF memes, you can share memes in private groups, and on top of that now has a vast library of cool meme templates.

It’s also worth noting that Facebook has signed several popular meme creators to create memes through Whale. These users can now publish their memes in their groups.

The application features do not end there, magic filters and the ability to insert a face have also been added. According to the first to test the app, Whale’s nifty tools are the simplest they’ve ever used.

You can download Whale from the App Store for free now, the only thing worth considering is that it is only available in the US and Canada.

Memes are gaining popularity. We know this, this is how we developed similar applications, and even now, two applications are in development. If you want to add a little fun to your app or do something similar from scratch, we can help.

How to find Whale App?

Whale is available for free on Apple’s iOS App Store, but only in the U.S. and Canada. The app also has its own Instagram page where it posts (you guessed it) memes.

Viewing Facebook Messages Without Installing The Messenger App

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of stink over the fact that Facebook is splitting its messaging functionality out into a new Facebook Messenger app.

Some fear-mongers have been spreading rumors that Facebook plans to use your camera and microphone to listen in on your private conversations, while Facebook has sent pretty clear messages that it has no intent to do so.

The result, however, has been quite a few conversations where friends and family have asked me whether they should avoid installing the Messenger app.

There have been a few changes to Messenger in the fact that there is a new app, but do you need it to view your Facebook messages?

Do We REALLY Think Facebook is Spying On Us?

My response has been pretty simple. Even if it were true, and Facebook were spying…is your life really that interesting? If you’re concerned with Facebook listening in on your conversations, maybe you should rethink what activities you’re engaged in.

No…Facebook is not really interested in your rants during your kids soccer game.

Surprise…they don’t want to hear you use the terms “ping”, “strategize” and “leverage” in your corporate meetings.

It’s true…Facebook is not interested in any of your embarrassing bathroom noises while you play Candy Crush Saga on the toilet.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but installing the Messenger app isn’t going to place your privacy in any more risk than the already embarrassing photos and “woe is me” posts that you’re putting on Facebook yourself.

So calm down, don’t believe the fear-mongers….just relax.

Facebook Messenger Doesn’t Represent The End Of Our Personal Privacy

Installing Facebook Messenger is not the end of your privacy…unless we want it to be. You can still use the phone to call people. 

If you choose not to use Facebook Messenger, great!

It’s one less communication channel that you need to check while you’re sitting at the stoplight holding everyone else up in line when the light turns green and you’re fixated on your phone.

{STOP THAT, PEOPLE!!}

But if you don’t believe me and you NEED your Facebook messages, yet are terrified that adding it to your phone will require you to wear a foil hat for the rest of your life so Facebook doesn’t steal your thoughts, then here are the instructions on how to get them.

NOTE: No…it’s not optimal. Yes, it’s kind of cludgy…but if you want the best experience, simply install the app and get over it.

Viewing Facebook Messages On Your Mobile Device Or Tablet Without Using The Facebook App

  1. Install Chrome on your device. If you are an Android user, it’s already on your phone.
  2. Open Chrome and navigate to http://www.facebook.com (don’t log in yet)
  3. Open the context menu within Chrome and check the box next to “Request Desktop Site”
  4. Reload the page and you should see the Facebook.com desktop site.
  5. Log in.
  6. Click the Messages link in the left nav under your profile photo to see your messages and respond to them.

You can still view your Facebook messages on your mobile device by viewing the desktop version of Facebook in your mobile browser. Just be sure to use the “Request desktop site” feature in Chrome to make sure you see the desktop version of Facebook, not the mobile version.

Again, not the best user experience, but it gets you to your messages without ever having to bow to the privacy will of Facebook and their desire that you download their second, stand-alone Facebook Messenger app.

Except for the fact that you basically gave away all privacy expectations when you “Agreed” to the Facebook terms of use by creating your account.

Oh yeah…that small detail.

I hope this helps. I also hope this post gets zero traffic because people aren’t silly enough to Google “how can I view my Facebook messages on my phone without installing the Messenger app”.

We’ll see….

Cheers!

–Sean


Update:

Wow…just wow.

First, let me apologize to my readers for the high-level of snark in this post. I probably went a little overboard and if it offends folks, sorry. Not my intent.

Second, I cannot believe the traffic this post is generating.

What that means to me is there are lots of real, legitimate reasons that people want to view Facebook Messenger messages without installing the mobile app. If you read the comments below, you’ll see that my readers have (once again) done a great job chiming in and sharing their reasons.

Some of them include:

Privacy

Not wanting to give away all of your private information, although I don’t see how viewing the messages in the desktop version vs the mobile app makes any difference on that front. Facebook still has all your messages and can still read them, regardless of the platform.

Resources, mainly storage on your phone

This one is SUPER valid.

On my Samsung Galaxy, the Facebook Messenger app is a bloated whale on an app.

The current version of the app takes up 408 MB of storage.  That’s nearly half a gig of storage for a single app.

By comparison, What’s App Messenger only takes up 19MB of storage and is a very similar type of messenger app. If you’re short on storage or your phone doesn’t allow you to move apps to your SD card, I can see why you would be unhappy with Messenger.

A loathe for chat applications

If you hate chat apps, then you should love the fact that Facebook split Messenger out, so you don’t have to install it. I completely get it.

Battery Life

Again, a very fair and valid point.

Now, instead of one app checking for Facebook messages, you have two. Two apps essentially performing a very similar function on a similar schedule could really impact your battery life.

The solution? Look at the settings for both the Facebook and Messenger apps and adjust how frequently the apps are searching for new messages or data.

Data Consumption

Not everyone has unlimited data on their mobile phone plan, I get it.

But in the single Facebook app that included Messenger, you didn’t have a choice as to whether you wanted to get messages on your phone or not. You either installed the Facebook app and got the messages, or you didn’t install the app and got nothing.

With the division of Facebook the app and Facebook Messenger, you can save data by choosing not to install the Messenger app. For those that want the best of both worlds, Facebook even included a “Data Saver” feature in Messenger to reduce the amount of data that the app uses by not automatically downloading images and videos.

To access the data saver feature, open Facebook Messenger and then click your profile photo. There should be a “Data Saver” menu item in the options that appear.

The Facebook Messenger data saver feature can limit the automatic downloads of images and videos

The Facebook Messenger App Crashes

It has gotten better, but at the beginning, Messenger was a hulking piece of $hit. I certainly expected more from Facebook (which I probably shouldn’t have). I feel like it’s a lot more stable, so maybe this has been worked out. That is, until they try to add more advertisements in 

Lean Canvas Examples of Multi-Billion Startups

Google’s story began with two guys spending hours in a garage trying to build the right thing. Another couple of friends – the future Airbnb founders – were short on cash and looking for a way to earn some.

Facebook, Youtube, Amazon can all boast similar bootstrapping origins. In modern terminology, they are lean startups that turned unicorns. These products have passed through the stage of a minimum viable product and managed to get over one billion US dollars of valuation.

The lean methodology, known for the introduction of different product management tools like lean canvas example, became popular after these mentioned giants were already well on their way to success. And, it’s most likely that their stories formed the backbone of this advanced mindset.

The rise of the lean startup

To some extent, the lean startup methodology was born from the ashes of the dot-com crash at the turn of the century. The irrational exuberance as Alan Greenspan named it led to the explosion of IPO prices and subsequent growth of trading prices. Around the turn of the millennium, the frenzy phase was replaced by the burning up phase during which the dot-com companies began to run out of cash rapidly. As a result, many of them went bankrupt, and the aftermath affected various supporting industries like advertising. The bubble burst and caused a nuclear winter for startup capital – angel and venture capital investments almost disappeared.

There emerged a need for an advanced methodology that would allow entrepreneurs to survive in the age of risk capital deficit. The former approach of “build first and wait for customers” had outlived its usefulness. Now, startup founders had to adapt to a new concept, based on the principle “build what customers want” and, most importantly thing, don’t rack up large costs for early changes in the pipeline.

The lean startup was a breath of fresh air. Though the name of this innovative approach was eternalized by Eric Ries in his book of the same name, he was not the only trailblazer. Steve Blank, Ian MacMillan, and others contributed to the invention of a new language that modern startups can speak. Lean is an agile development methodology, where you need to shape a hypothesis about your product/business first and then validate it with customers in service. For example, you build a minimum viable product, an iterative prototype of the would-be functional solution, and make it available for real customers to get their feedback. If it’s negative, you have not failed. You can pivot and correct the course of your idea, or change the business model. At the same time, the methodology provides numerous tools for effective strategic management, in which canvases play a significant role.

What is a lean canvas?

Ash Maurya’s brainchild, lean canvas, is a revamped business model canvas, which allows you to investigate business vistas using the problem-solution approach. This improved canvas was perfect for startups. It dovetails nicely with the lean methodology and lets you understand your customers’ needs, focus on actionable metrics and deliver a rapid idea-to-product transformation. If you are curious about its practical use, check this video explaining how to work with the tool through the example of Uber.

Today, the lean canvas template is in high demand among entrepreneurs. One of Learnmetrics founders have called it “a brilliant tool”, and the Brunch & Budgets CEO Pamela Capalad emphasises its improved usability compared to a multi page business plan. And what would Jeff Bezos or Steve Chen have said about the canvas if they could use it back in their bootstrapping days? That’s our goal in this article – to imagine lean startup canvas example for former unicorn startups that now are globally-known brands. Let’s give it a go!

Five multi-billion startups and their lean canvas examples

We went with two fundamental requirements when choosing the companies to build a lean business model canvas for. First, we picked unicorn startups. Second, we picked the companies founded before The Lean Startup’s first release in 2011.

We also decided to take a look at two different types of startup companies : invention- and money-driven. For example, the founders of Facebook, YouTube, and Google initially did not focus on making money. They were just having fun in by inventing solutions or technologies to make human life better. Amazon and Airbnb, on the other hand, were originally profit-oriented startups. Their founders set money as the primary goal of their endeavors.

Let’s now try to walk in the founders’ shoes and fill in the blank lean canvas! How about we start with Google?

Google

Year of foundation: 1998
Venue: Menlo Park, CA
Original name: Googol
Founded by: Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Total funding amount: $36.1 million (last funding in 2000)
IPO: raised $1.7 billion in 2004

In terms of popularity and global adoption, Google is an undisputed number one company. What originated as an advanced web search engine has grown into a multinational giant that specializes in online advertising, cloud computing, hard and soft products, and many others. It’s hard to believe, but Google’s bootstrapping began in a garage, where two Montessori minds implemented their knowledge obtained in the Stanford University more than 20 years ago.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page saw gaps in Excite or Yahoo – search tools of those days and strived to improve upon their idea – to create a reliable, comprehensive and speedy search engine. The synergy of their collaboration resulted in the PageRank algorithm, which was based on the Page’s project nicknamed BackRub. According to modern realia, PageRank was the startup’s unfair advantage. Google’s founders made attempts to sell the technology to their potential competitors but failed. So, they changed the direction towards developing their research project into the lean startup. Fortunately, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Andy Bechtolsheim, saw some potential in their work and invested $100K. In 2018, the market value of Google exceeded $700 billion.

Now, let’s take a look at the Google lean canvas Brin and Page would likely have tailored twenty years ago.

Facebook

Year of foundation: 2004
Venue: Cambridge, MA
Original name: Thefacebook
Founded by: Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, and Chris Hughes
Total funding amount: $2.3 billion (last funding in 2012)
IPO: raised $18.4 billion in 2012

Facebook is one of the projects that came out after the burst of the dot.com bubble. The story of the most famous social network began not in a garage but in the Harvard dormitory, where Mark Zuckerberg and company worked on a student directory featuring photos and basic information. The first fruit of their collaboration was Facemash, a website allowing students to rank each other’s photos. However, this early version didn’t catch on.

Thefacebook, the original version of the product we know today, was the result of the good and bad lessons of Facemash. The first investments in the startup amounted to $2K – $1K each by Saverin and Zuckerberg. The website coverage gradually expanded beyond the borders of Harvard to the universities of the USA and Canada. Thefacebook dropped “the” from its name in August 2005 and became an open social network.

If Zuckerberg and Saverin had wanted to make a Facebook lean canvas at the outset, it might have looked like this:

YouTube

Year of foundation: 2005
Venue: San Mateo, CA
Founded by: Jawed Karim, Steve Chen, and Chad Hurley
Total funding amount: $11.5 million (last funding in 2006)
Acquired by Google for $1.7 billion in 2006

Meet another brainchild of post irrational exuberance. The founders of YouTube didn’t get their start in a garage or dormitory. They chose an apartment above a pizzeria, and that’s the place where the world’s largest video hosting service was born. The Internet users of that time had had no YouTube alternatives since ShareYourWorld, the first video hosting website, which closed in 2001, and Vimeo had just started on its way (it was founded three months before the activation of the domain name “youtube.com”). Eventually, Jawed, Steve and Chad, former PayPal employees, driven by the idea to create a video version of online dating service Hot or Not, decided to refocus their efforts on developing a video hosting startup.

Since the nuclear winter for startup capital hade come to an end, the promising project was not short of money. Sequoia Capital was the initial investor, which put in $3.5 million ten months after the domain name was activated. In 2006, YouTube was purchased by Google for a whopping $1.65 billion.

The YouTube lean canvas would reflect the following problems and solutions as of 2005.

Amazon

Year of foundation: 1994
Venue: Bellevue, Washington, D.C.
Original name: Calabra
Founded by: Jeff Bezos
Total funding amount: $108 million ($8 million of funding before IPO)
IPO: raised $54 million in 1997

Today, the startup named after the second longest river on the globe is known for a plethora of activities including e-commerce, cloud computing, and even artificial intelligence. Well, almost twenty five-years ago it was just an online bookstore that dared traditional book stores. However, yet at that time Jeff Bezos already wanted to build “an everything store”.

Amazon was founded right in the middle of the dot.com bubble and was lucky to survive the following crash. Its story began in a garage, and the initial startup capital consisted of the personal savings of Bezos’ parents. At this period, web usage was growing at lightning speed, and most entrepreneurs wanted to ride the Internet wave. Jeff was considering twenty products that he could potentially sell online. However, books won due to their universal demand and low cost.

This is how the Amazon lean canvas would have looked back in 1994.

Airbnb

Year of foundation: 2008
Venue: San Francisco, CA
Original name: AirBed & Breakfast
Founded by: Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk
Total funding amount: $4.4 billion (last funding in 2018)

Though the core principles of the lean startup methodology were introduced by Eric Ries three years after Airbnb’s foundation, this project had already followed them. Everything began with the simple need to make money because Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia fell short on cash to pay their rent. The solution was inspired by circumstance – all hotels were overbooked just before some local conference. That’s how the AirBed & Breakfast website came out in 2007. The guys lodged three guests on air mattresses and treated them with breakfast for $80 per each per night. In modern terms, they released a minimum viable product to validate their idea.

After that, the Airbnb team grew (Nathan Blecharczyk joined them), survived several unlucky releases and failed to attract any of the 15 angel investors they contacted. The trio sought out other ways to nurture their pet project including the sale of cereals (that allowed them to earn $30K). Another $20K was funded by the prestigious startup accelerator Y Combinator. As soon the startup name turned from Air Bed & Breakfast into simple Airbnb, it got its first significant investment: Sequoia Capital (YouTube’s first investor) seeded $600K one month later (April 2009). In 2018, the market value of the company reached $38 billion, and they might make an IPO this year.

Let’s have a look at a possible Airbnb lean canvas.

The examples above are only our vision of how those startups could have leveraged the lean canvas framework. Do you think it looks like something the founders of those startups would’ve done?

At Railsware we also take advantage of lean canvas for both our clients’ projects such as Calendly and our own products like Smart Checklist for Jira.

Why lean canvas? It combines simplicity and power in one go. This tool poses rather simple but essential questions. Some product owners skip answering them at the outset, which is not the right way to do things. Railsware believes all the questions to be faced in the future like ‘how to promote a product?’, ‘what monetization approach to select?’ and so on must be answered at the early stages.

How Railsware uses lean canvas for product development

The lean startup methodology plays a big role in how we approach product development. And we are glad to share a piece of our craft.

The foundation stone of our pipeline is the Inception. It’s a discovery session at which we attempt to describe the product context through the ‘user-problem-solution’ prism. We are interested mostly in these three values since they represent our scope of activities in the majority of projects. Other components specified in the canvas like Channels, Existing Alternatives, and Revenue Streams are also up for during the Inception sessions. Practically, we rest upon a customized value proposition canvas, which helps us create a constructive roadmap of a project. So far, we use this approach to all products we work on.

The Ideas Incubator is yet another activity that we use to further unfold the advantages of the lean startup model canvas. As you can judge from the name, this session is devoted to nurturing our ideas to be converted into real products. You can call it a preliminary research stage, which includes filling in the lean canvas for each idea as well. We validate our ideas according to a profound analysis and avoid any progress based on a blind belief in success.

Use Lean Canvas for your product!

In this article, we tried to show that the concept of the lean startup had been bearing fruit even before it was defined and put in writing. The brilliant minds who founded Google, Facebook and other prominent companies were led by a gut feeling that brought them to success. And the fact that we applied the lean business model canvas example for each startup case is just an attempt to reveal the power of this product management tool. We do encourage you to use it and benefit from it, as well as other progressive solutions in your product development efforts. Perhaps, your project will also join the above mentioned cohort of unicorn startups in the future!

Messaging and Voice over Apps Owned by Facebook

Messenger

Messenger is another famous app created by Facebook. Today, this application goes hand in hand with the Facebook app itself for most smartphone users. But, actually, Messenger became available for iOS, Android and Windows devices only in 2011. Before that, there was only the Facebook Chat that was released in 2008. But it was not a standalone application and offered much worse user experience.

According to Statista, as of October 2018, Facebook Messenger was the second most popular messaging app in the world having 1.3 billion monthly active users.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is another messaging application Facebook owns. But unlike Messenger, WhatsApp was not made by the Facebook team — the company acquired it in 2014 for $19 billion. At that moment, the application was already quite ‘mature’, having existed on the market for about five years.

And as we see, that was indeed successful purchase as WhatsApp is the most popular messaging application worldwide nowadays. It has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users and ranked No.1 appby worldwide downloads.

Coronavirus impact: Facebook’s ad revenue weakens despite increased engagement

  • As countries announce total lockdown, internet usage has exponentially grown in the past few days
  • Much of the increased traffic is happening on Facebook’s messaging services

San Francisco: Facebook has admitted that its ad business has been adversely affected in countries severely hit by the novel coronavirus while non-business engagement like messaging has exploded which is affecting its services like Messenger and WhatsApp.

As countries after countries announce total lockdown, internet usage has exponentially grown in the past few days, forcing tech companies like Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Google to lower their video quality to let the services up and running.

Our business is being adversely affected like so many others around the world. We don’t monetize many of the services where we’re seeing increased engagement, and we’ve seen a weakening in our ads business in countries taking aggressive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Alex Schultz, VP of Analytics and Jay Parikh, VP of Engineering

Much of the increased traffic is happening on Facebook’s messaging services.

As the pandemic expands and more people practice physically distancing themselves from one another, this has also meant that many more people are using our apps. On many of the countries hit hardest by the virus, total messaging has increased more than 50% over the last month,

Similarly, in places hit hardest by the virus, voice and video calling have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp.

In Italy, specifically, Facebook has seen up to 70 per cent more time spent across its apps since the crisis arrived in the country. Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a week.

We have also seen messaging increase over 50 percent and time in group calling (calls with three or more participants) increase by over 1,000 percent during the last month in Italy.

Alex Schultz, VP of Analytics and Jay Parikh, VP of Engineering

Facebook said during this emergency, it has been doing everything it can to keep its apps fast, stable and reliable.

Our services were built to withstand spikes during events such as the Olympics or on New Year’s Eve. However, those happen infrequently, and we have plenty of time to prepare for them.

The usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, it said, adding that Facebook is experiencing new records in usage almost every day.

The team is working to keep our apps running smoothly while also prioritizing features such as COVID-19 Information Center on Facebook as well as the World Health Organization’s Health Alert on WhatsApp. We’re monitoring usage patterns carefully, making our systems more efficient, and adding capacity as required.

What is FBCLID in Google Analytics?

THE NEW FACEBOOK PARAMETER?

Do you usually examine the URL address of a web page you visit? Have you noticed that something new appears in some URLs when you click an ad coming from the Facebook’s network?

Even though you use an ad blocker, there are still some ways to bypass the cookie policy and laws by some companies. Probably the parameter fbclid is determined to do exactly the same thing.

We are not talking about the well-known Facebook Pixel here. The parameter fbclid is something totally new of which many users are interested and even more – they are afraid.

Is there something common between gclid and fbclid parameters?

Not at all. Only the situation is pretty similar given to the fact that some time ago Google started adding the gclid parameter to transfer data between Google Analytics and Google Adsense.

So what is fbclid – the new Facebook parameter?

Facebook users have noticed a new fbclid tag, which appeared in the URL of publications in the social network. For the firs t time, the parameter was noticed in the middle of October and made lot of people wondering what the purpose of fbclid is.

Fbclid can be decrypted as a Facebook Click Identifier (“Facebook Click Identifier”) by analogy with Google Click Identifier – GCLID. The GCLID parameter is used to exchange data between Google Analytics and Google AdSense, like we already mentioned.

Thus, it can be assumed that fbclid is used to exchange data with

Facebook Analytics, but is it true?

Another assumption from users claimed on Reddit pages is that the parameter is intended to bypass the Apple 2.0 smart tracking system,which the company introduced to protect Safari from cross-site tracking of Facebook and other sites. In early October, Facebook just announced the launch of the main cookies for cross-site tracking of data from Safari and Mozilla Firefox.

It is possible that in the future this parameter will help to get more complete statistics on Facebook and expand the pages insights which is great for advertising purposes.

However, while there is no official information, it is recommended to add the fbclid parameter to the exceptions in the “View Settings” in Google Analytics. The new tracking mechanism might be some sort of first party pixel implementation, but a lot of people are reporting that pages with the fbclid parameter are not redirecting properly to the right destinations.

What is fbclid designed to do – help you understand the effectiveness of your ads or identify where your ad traffic is going and coming from?

Only time will tell.
Stay informed on the topic by following our blog posts.

Virtual Churches: Is VR the Future of Religious Technology?

In the 18th century, the American colonies experienced an enormous swell of religious fervor known as the First Great Awakening.

Leaving the cold, dark churches and their solemnly delivered sermons for exuberant traveling preachers in the town square, the colonials must have felt a profound spiritual transformation.

Since that First Great Awakening, there have been many other breakthroughs in the way people worship and interact spiritually: televangelists, megachurches, and online churches, just to name a few.

They’re all part of the constantly evolving way that we experience religion, and for the church to stay relevant, it will need to continue to embrace innovation by listening for new voices coming from the town square.

VR is one of the most recent examples of technology altering the way we worship, and in this article, we’ll look at how your Virtual Church could become a virtual church.

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality uses computer-generated 360-degree images to immerse the viewer in a comprehensive, realistic experience.

When I recently came home from a summer in Washington, D.C., I brought my little sister a virtual reality viewer that let her visit the national monuments without ever leaving her room. She loved it, and spent hours that night looking around the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, and (my favorite) the Lincoln Memorial.

Virtual reality offers an escape from ordinary content consumption, but it also offers an exciting educational experience.

Students can work with virtual reality in the classroom to visit historical sites, watch a demonstration, or learn about the stars. Employees can train on the job without entering into dangerous or uncomfortable situations in real life.

Virtual reality can also be a portal to faith and spirituality for those who might not otherwise get the chance.

Virtual reality and the Church

L. Michelle Salvant, founder of Mission:VR, considers virtual reality to be vital for faith formation.

“We have a lot of people talking about faith,” she says. “But I know for a surety that when you can experience someone’s faith and their hope, when you can go inside of their life and feel it, conversion will increase.”

Mission:VR partnered with Covalent Reality to create an environment for the virtual reality platform Google Cardboard called BelieveVR.

BelieveVR uses 360-degree cameras to follow the stories of people of faith as they struggle to overcome spiritual challenges. The first story, called “Healed,”follows Florida pastor Nicky E. Collins as she finds spiritual support during her battle with breast cancer. After the premiere of the short film, Salvant said viewers were “uplifted” by the experience, which they called “awesome” and “touching.”

That’s just one example of how virtual reality is affecting the worship experience.

#1 Case: Church Online Platform

Church Online is developing a virtual reality platform to supplement its online presence.

#2 Case: Virtual Reality Church

The Virtual Reality Church uses the software platform AltspaceVR (free for most Android VR devices) to bring their congregants a 360-degree church experience.

What is VR Church?

In recent times the Church has been slow to venture into new technology; with many pastors siting allegiance to the good old pen and paper over an iPad. Indeed technology is often met with mistrust; but this was not always the case for God’s people. In 1454 one of these new technologies in it’s infancy was used to print the Gutenberg bible. At one point the pen and paper was a new technology, and God has embraced that in order to communicate his word. As Christian’s it is our mandate to communicate God’s loving kindness through whatever means we have available to us. Advanced technology and recent breakthroughs such as virtual reality present new media channels through which the Church can communicate the timeless message of Jesus.

VR Church is not so much about being a Church as it is about making use of technology to engage in the mission of the Church. Virtual Reality is an upcoming media channel that can be used like any other to communicate God’s words. Virtual Reality is different from many channels though in that it presents more ways for us to communicate God’s word that other channels: it is actually most similar to theatre in that respect. An important aspect of this channel is that we can communicate God’s word using different learning modalities: kinaesthetic, audio and visual learning styles are all represented and this has been shown to help with memorisation, as well as engaging a wide range of people.

So what specifically can we do with virtual reality that we couldn’t do already? Well, in a quick moment in our busy lives we can put on our VR headset and:

  • Be transported to a new and beautiful place which reflects the words of the Psalms
  • Be completely immersed in scenes from the bible
  • Find a quiet and still place to pray and worship
  • Join in a unique communal prayer room

There are a lot of different possibilities for how we might engage with God in virtual reality, what is left to do now is to get out there and present these ideas so that might be experienced and enjoyed.

#3 Case: SecondLife

SecondLife, one of the earliest virtual reality software systems, offers three different churches in its platform, and you can start exploring for free.

The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Second Life

No one expects any of these platforms to replace traditional churches, and even a megachurch would be ill advised to buy hundreds of high-end Oculus Rift headsets for their congregation.

But as VR devices become more and more affordable and ubiquitous (Google Cardboard can turn your smartphone into a VR headset for about $15, for example), virtual reality will become another channel for people to communicate on.

For people who can’t physically come to church, people who want to enhance their experience with new technology, or people who want to come back to the church, virtual reality offers another opportunity to do so.

Using virtual reality in the church brings a holistic spiritual experience to those who can’t or wouldn’t normally go to church. Making faith accessible to more people was one of the major goals Salvant hoped to achieve with her church software. People with disabilities are less likely to attend a service, so virtual reality quite literally opens the door for hundreds of thousands of disabled religious people across the country.

Clearly, VR is making its way into the spiritual community. But what are some ways you can use it in your own church?

1. Live stream in VR

I love watching live streams. They’re like a little window into someone else’s life. My church at home sets up a live stream at every Mass for those who can’t make it. But VR takes it to a whole new level. Your congregants can meet in a common space that requires no travel time, no cleanup, and no reservation.

VahanaVR by Orah

Software such as VahanaVR by Orah, or Facebook Spaces for Oculus Rift provides real-time hangout spaces for any kind of event, meeting, or service. Your congregants don’t necessarily need a headset. All you need to broadcast in 3D is:

  • the software (VahanaVR sells for $2,195; Facebook Spaces is free on Oculus devices)
  • 360-degree camera (which start at about $100)
  • a connection to a livestreaming platform such as Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter

Anyone who wants to watch can simply click the link, put on a headset or watch on their computer screen, and become immersed in the experience.

2. VR small groups

You can also apply virtual reality to smaller groups of people. Instead of meeting at the church for department decisions, your staff can simply log onto an online VR platform.

A demo in Hyperfair

  • Hyperfair, which is usually used for businesses, could be used to meet in a virtual space. Pricing for Hyperfair is not available online.
  • Mozilla’s MozVR is a free, open-source virtual reality framework that allows you to create your own online VR experience and share it with your coworkers or friends (assuming you have advanced programming ability, of course).
  • vTime is a VR social network that allows people to meet in virtual space, and is free on Windows Mixed Reality devices.

Meeting in virtual space provides a chance to meet new people without the pressure of meeting in person. It gives your congregants a chance to talk to like-minded people about their faith, without having to leave home. For people who are new to the church, a virtual reality group just for them can give them a chance to get to know new people before they arrive.

3. VR group retreats

Retreats are expensive. There’s no way around it. From finding a place to accommodate everyone in your group, to catering food for each night, to planning the content and activities, retreats are labor intensive and costly.

What if you could join them from anywhere in the world using your computer?

Meeting in a virtual space (using the same devices and apps outlined in the sections above) can reduce the cost of reserving a building or campground, as well as travel to that location.

Guest speakers can give talks without ever having to leave their homes. People with disabilities can participate without having to worry about whether the space will accommodate their needs.

And the possibilities are endless. In the near future, you might be able to virtually travel all over the world on your retreat without having to pay for tickets or hotels. Because the virtual environment is computer generated, the options are only limited to what the designers and programmers can dream up. Just be prepared for a little push back if you try to convince your congregation that a virtual Hawaiian beachfront is as good as the real thing. We’re not quitethere yet.

How will you include virtual reality in your church?

Media professionals say virtual reality is the future. Classrooms, real estate, and construction are just three industries where virtual reality is already becoming a part of everyday life.

Places of faith and worship are not far behind. Will you incorporate VR in your church experience in the future? How will VR help your church? Tell us what you think in the comments!