Face.com closes its API after Facebook purchase

Last month Facebook bought Face.com who, besides having a desirable domain name, do face recognition and detection. They also have an API which feels like some kind of magic: send it an image, or an image’s URL, and it pretty accurately tells you lots of stuff about the faces in it. You can try it out here. When the site was bought, Face.com’s blog said this on 18th June:

Lots of developers use Face.com technology to power various apps and make wonderful products. We love you guys, and the plan is to continue to support our developer community. If there are new developments you can expect to hear from us here, on the developer blog, and through our developer newsletter.

True to their word, they did keep developers updated. It’s not yet on their blog or Developer News page, but an email arrived less than three weeks later containing this:

Over the next 30 days we will be shutting off our APIs and winding down all support. New signups for developer tokens are now closed.

I’m trying to square “continue to support our developer community” with “shutting off our APIs” but my brain no workee.

On the one hand, oh boo hoo, poor little me, a free service I liked is being closed by the people who run and pay for it, why wasn’t I consulted, what outrage, etc, etc. Tough cheese, freeloader!

On the other hand… I roll my eyes at yet another tech acquisition which is initially all “This will be great for the users who have got us here, and we love you developers, we’ll now be able to do even more amazing things together!” only to turn around and fart in the developers’ increasingly sceptical faces.

I know nothing of Face.com’s acquisition, and maybe they sincerely hoped and believed everything they initially wrote on their blog. They’re probably great people.

But for any other tech companies who are about to be bought by one of the industry’s behemoths, can I suggest something more honest for your initial statement:

Awesome! We have just been purchased by Yahapple! They didn’t buy our company for the website and APIs you know and love, but for our underlying technologies, which they’ll ultimately be using to increase advertising revenue on their existing services. As a consequence we’ll very shortly close all the services you currently know us for. Good luck with finding an alternative!

Or maybe:

Great news! We are now a proud member of the FaceGoo family! While you enjoy using our website and app, and some of you have even built your own services and businesses based on the APIs, FaceGoo don’t care about any of that. We’ve been bought solely as a “talent acquisition” and will be attempting to recreate the startup magic within this vast organisation. As a consequence we’ll soon be shutting down all our existing services. See you in two years!

You know, it’s fine, get acquired, it’s the dream! But be honest about it.

10 Jul 2012 at Twitter

  • 07:51am: @phl Ah. They don't make it immediately obvious. They should adopt your tweet as a tagline.
  • 09:17am: 400th check-in at the BRIG. Can't wait for my prize! A medal? A sticker? A piece of whimsical future-retro Internet-connected old tat?
  • 02:38pm: Me writing about http://t.co/qS2iMHL6 closing its APIs and ranting a little about tech acquisitions: http://t.co/lnFvrSG2
  • 08:07pm: Had enough of pundits agonising over sizes iPads, whether to design for retina displays, blah blah. I should read people with real problems,
  • 08:19pm: @paulpod I expect the UN has an agency specifically focused on eradicating blocky websites from the world's retina screens.
  • 08:25pm: @hondanhon Shut up about displays Dan! I'm trying to decide if an 8" iPad would go better with my MaBook and iPhone than a 10" iPad!

10 Jul 2012 in Links

10 Jul 2012 in Comments elsewhere

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