Meebo, an instant-messenger startup, is following in the footsteps of Facebook by allowing certain hand-selected developers to create new widgets for its pages. Unlike Facebook, however, it plans to lure developers by offering them half the revenue gained from the features they create and will sell the ads itself, instead of leaving the task to the more code-oriented developers.
There's a potential pitfall to Meebo's platform play. "An attractive platform is directly related to the number of users it can bring to the developers," says one venture capitalist. "If that's the case, not everyone can be a platform." Meebo says it fills a different niche—live interaction—than Facebook, where messages are left for others to be picked up later, like email rather than chat.