When Facebook — the social network everyone and their mom is on now — launched its new F8 “platform” initiative, one of the first to really take off was iLike. The music recommendation service, which also has a plugin for iTunes, is a way of sharing with others the music you like and of finding new music, much like Last.fm and Pandora do (the former uses what other people like to suggest new music, and the latter uses a pattern-matching algorithm).
In true Internet fashion, iLike has gone through a year’s worth of growth in a little over a week. As I wrote last week, the company went from having just 1,200 users to having more than 400,000 in a little over a day — which taxed its resources to the point where it doubled the number of servers it was running five times and still didn’t have enough capacity. Eventually, the company had to plead with Silicon Valley neighbours to provide extra servers. And where is it now? It has quintupled in size again, and has more than 2.2 million users.
That’s in a little over a week, remember — virtually the entire life-span of a company, from startup to (relatively) widespread usage, like one of those insects that is born, reproduces and dies in 24 hours. iLike hasn’t died, of course, but it certainly has had a wild ride. And according to an interview with the founder at the blog Online Fandom, the company is doing well and continuing to grow — and it has no problem with the fact that virtually its entire business at the moment (at least in terms of its user base) is predicated on being part of the Facebook platform.
In the Online Fandom interview, Ali Partovi — who co-founded the company with his identical twin brother — says that iLike’s functionality is “even better when deeply integrated in to the Facebook platform,” and that the company plans to continue to integrate the two. Unlike MySpace, which has blocked some widgets in the past (such as Photobucket) and caused problems for companies in the process, Partovi says that further integration with Facebook makes business sense for iLike.
“Fortunately, in contrast to the precariously-balanced Myspace widget ecosystem, making money on the FB platform is no harder than making money on our own site. In fact, the business model doesn’t change at all.”
Since iLike is a social application, which gets its strength from the widest possible sampling of users and their music, Partovi says that being part of a social platform makes perfect sense.
“People don’t wanna go somewhere separate just for music — they want music to enhance their existing online social life. Where would you rather see a notification that your buddies are going to see Snow Patrol: on a separate music website, or in the Facebook news feed that you’re already checking five times a day?”
Not a bad point. How the marriage works out down the road remains to be seen. And we can only hope that the Partovi brothers have read the pre-nup, which Sam Sethi describes at Vecosys.