MomentCam, with 200M downloads, wins Facebook’s first Fb Start mobile app contest

Facebook has crowned the winner of its first-ever Fb Start competition, a contest that sought to identify the best apps in the world that are part of its program aimed at helping mobile developers.

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The grand prize winning team, which will receive $50,000 in cash and $25,000 in Facebook Ad Credit, is Beijing, China-based Hightalk Software, makers of MomentCam. The app, which allows users to easily create and share customized caricatures of people, has been downloaded more than 200 million times.

Fb Start also named a set of regional winners, each of which will get $5,000 in cash and $5,000 in Facebook Ad Credit. For Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, the winner was the London-based social polling app, Whichit, which also allows businesses to create poll-based coupons that lead to heavy customer engagement; for Latin America, it was Brazil’s Qranio, which incentivizes players to complete knowledge-based trivia quizzes; for North America, it was U.S.-based Workflow, which enables automating actions between apps on your iOS device. And the “social good” winner was Hunger Crunch, which helps people “fight hunger” through a series of real-world and virtual experiences.

According to Facebook, apps were judged based on four main criteria:

1. growth and engagement: is it growing quickly, entering new markets, or keeping new users

2. experience and design: is it optimized for a good user experience, and does it look and feel streamlined

3. efficiency at scale: how well does it utilize Facebook or other tools “to make app development and iteration efficient”

4. how well they leverage Facebook Platform: did the app developers make Facebook and/or Parse integral to the app?

Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s head of global platform partnerships, told VentureBeat that the selection of MomentCam “highlights the fact that we work with mainly mobile-first companies not based in Silicon Valley that are going through exponential growth.”

Codorniou added that the Fb Start team was looking for a winner that is doing interesting things on Facebook Platform, including the way it uses social login, Parse, and organic sharing tools. As well, it was looking for apps that were successfully monetizing with Facebook Platform that were mobile only. “We were looking for a company that could inspire a lot of developers,” he said.

Speaking of MomentCam, he added, “These guys could be the poster child of the next generation of partners for Facebook.”

Codorniou said Facebook wants to support startups like those participating in the competition as well as it can. Speaking of MomentCam’s huge growth, he said, “When we see something amazing happening on the platform, like the growth of these guys, we tend to jump in and” help.

And while he noted that it’s critical for Facebook to “manage the big guys”
like Uber, Spotify, Candy Crush, and others, the social network is always looking for “the next generation of things.”

For his part, Filipe Santos, the director of international business for Hightalk Software, said Fb Start was instrumental in the creation of MomentCam in a number of ways. First and foremost, he said, was advice the Chinese-based company got from Facebook’s Singapore office, as well as the fact that the startup was able to count on using tools like MailChimp and SurveyMonkey that are supported by Facebook. That support, Santos said, gives the tools “credibility.”

Santos also said Facebook supported his team’s use of Facebook ads, particularly when they wanted to do A/B testing. In the end, he said, being able to count on Facebook Platform made user acquisition “much cheaper” than what MomentCam had done before.

To Codorniou, one of the things Facebook likes to do — and which MomentCam and other apps in the Fb Start competition demonstrated — was building apps for multiple platforms.

“We are on top of operating systems and hardware,” Codorniou said. “We love to take companies from one operating system to another. Like Candy Crush and Spotify.”

Ultimately, that’s one of the biggest benefits Parse has brought to the Facebook development ecosystems. “This is exactly the vision of Parse,” he said. “This is why we bought the company. It’s faster to develop [simultaneously for iOS and Android]. That’s really the vision for the platform.”

Ref: VentureBeat

Facebook has given startups $250M in FbStart benefits, schedules F8 developer conference for April 12-13

Facebook announced that its global developer program FbStart is growing rapidly, with the number of participating startups rising by 61 percent in the past five months. The company also revealed that today it’s rolling out a new sharing feature for developers.

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Oh, and one more thing: Facebook announced the dates for next year’s F8 developer conference: April 12-13 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California.

Deborah Liu, the vice president of platform at the social networking company, spoke at a press conference today about how Facebook is reaching out to developers worldwide through FbStart. Seventy percent of Facebook’s developers come from outside the U.S. Beyond our borders, the next biggest markets include Great Britain, Germany, Brazil, and India.

As of now, the program has hand-selected more than 7,200 startups to participate, with over 30 partners supporting. These companies have received $250 million in benefits and resources from FbStart. In addition, 7 new partners have just been added: Animoto, Coursera, Dropbox, Reverie, Twilio, Twinprime, and Verbalizeit.

As a refresher, FbStart started last year as one of the main ways for the company to reach out to developers. It offers connections to company leaders/mentorship, a community that networks with each other, and a suite of products and services offered by partners and vendors.

This is the first update on FbStart’s performance since May, when there were3,800 participating startups and 20 partners. Back then, $100 million in benefits were given out.

At the last F8 developer conference, Liu announced the launch of a new analytics tool. In the past seven months, more than 200,000 unique apps are using Facebook Analytics for Apps. One example is MomentCam, the winner of the company’s inaugural FbStart mobile app contest. Liu explained that by using this service, developers can build a better application by knowing what people are doing.

To better help developers, Facebook is rolling out a new sharing feature for apps built on iOS. In the past year, 50 billion pieces of content have been shared back to the social network, but based on feedback, Facebook opted to simplify things and make it more native. We’re told that some of the comments Facebook received include a desire by developers to have a more consistent experience, a clearer preview so users can know how their posts will look, an ability to share with any audience, and that it not require Facebook login to share.

Facebook’s new native sharing feature is an extension for iOS 6 and above. The hope is that posts created by users will look more similar to those created on the social network. As long as you have the Facebook app on your phone and you’re logged in, the third-party developer will utilize the Facebook extension to authenticate with the user, but the app itself won’t know who you are. The goal is to create a unified experience across all apps when sharing — as long as they use this native iOS share sheet feature

Ref: VentureBeat

How Facebook’s FbStart program helped MomentCam pass 300M downloads

In 2014, Facebook launched an initiative aimed at giving assistance to local developers to help them produce applications that would have a beneficial impact on their community and region. Since that time, the company has provided $250 million in benefits. But what makes FbStart so effective? To answer that question, look to one of its supported startups.

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At last year’s F8 developer conference, Facebook hailed MomentCam as a model example of FbStart. Deb Liu, Facebook’s vice president of platform, said in a statement: “We reviewed hundreds of applicants to find the ones with significant growth and retention, the best user experience and design, and the ability to build efficiently and at scale. We also looked for apps where Facebook’s developer platform was integral to the app’s success. MomentCam unanimously caught the attention of the judging committee for meeting this criteria, and for being an APAC-based developer that used Facebook to scale globally. MomentCam is one of the best examples of a China-based app that is performing well both locally and internationally.”

The Beijing, China-based company won the program’s inaugural competitionand received $50,000 in cash and $25,000 in Facebook Ad credit for its cartoon and caricature mobile app. The judges credited its growth, user engagement and experience, design, and ability to manage users and leverage the Facebook platform.

Hightalk Software, the makers of MomentCam, said that its app has been downloaded more than 300 million times since its launch in 2013 and now has 20 million monthly active users. At its peak, it had 3.25 million new activations in a single day.

Facebook has more than 1.55 billion monthly active users, so how can developers extend use of the social network? In MomentCam’s case, it deployed a suite of tools including Facebook Login, sharing, analytics, app invites and insights, app links, and integrations with Messenger — all separate modules of the core Facebook experience.

The viral effect of using an app with a Facebook tie-in certainly holds true; Hightalk Software said that its new user registration percentage increased by 20 percent after implementing Facebook Login. Moreover, the percentage of monthly active users in non-China markets (i.e. beyond China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau) jumped 150 percent after going all-in with Facebook. While these percentages may seem impressive, the exact numbers were not provided.

Beyond the simple Like button and the sharing capabilities, MomentCam seems to have taken advantage of Facebook’s app insights (also known as Analytics for Apps) and events features, particularly to understand how users engage with specific tools. In one situation, Hightalk Software wanted to know about performance of MomentCam’s Face Detection process — one of the most critical parts of the app, because if it fails, the whole enjoyment of using this service evaporates.

The app maker used App Events to determine which territories have greater and lesser success with the Face Detection Ratio. To determine why MomentCam wasn’t performing as well in Egypt, Hightalk began researching why it was the case: Was it because of language issues? Servers? Skin tones? The user interface? Or something else?

Upon investigating, the company discovered from its users that language and culture were playing a bigger role than they thought it would. The result led the company to add a tailored tutorial with examples and photos on how to use the face detection feature. In doing so, Hightail saw the fail ratio decrease by 20 percent for Arabic people.

Other Facebook tools used include Facebook Login. After MomentCam integrated this feature, it became the default login for many of its users. When users selected that login option, the company gave them the chance to participate in new activities, earn “Momie Beans,” and win exclusive cartoons. Hightail Software said that has resulted in “several hundred thousand new users” opting to use Facebook Login every month.

The app also ties back into Facebook Messenger, one of the leading chat services. Instead of pasting emojis or animated GIFs into your conversations with friends, why not make it more personal with an image from MomentCam? The app maker synced up with Messenger to allow people to quickly and easily create their own personalized and animated response before sharing it with their friends. Not surprisingly, MomentCam is a selected app featured within Messenger.

By doing this, MomentCam saw its engagement increase 25 percent and brought “thousands of extra highly engaged users everyday.”

At the end of the day, is MomentCam the most innovative service in the world? No, but it has found success in capitalizing on the impact Facebook can have in spreading the word about your app.

With the resources from FbStart, Hightail Software said it was able to receive assistance in building better apps with Facebook’s portfolio of tools. The aim of the FbStart program is to provide the resources developers need to build not just an app, but one that is scalable and can easily be adjusted based on user needs. And for an app that turns photos (including selfies) into cartoons and caricatures, finding out how to modify an app so that it works not only in China, but also in the United States, Europe, Africa, and the rest of the world, can be an important thing.

Ref: VentureBeat