Hey app developers! We’ve got your back, says Facebook’s Ilya Sukhar (video)

8 Nov 2014

Pictured: Ilya Sukhar, product director, Facebook, and founder of Parse

Facebook is creating an environment in which developers can create apps and monetise by pushing them across all device platforms and operating systems, Facebook’s Ilya Sukhar explained.

Sukhar, a director of product at Facebook, is the founder and CEO of Parse, a cloud application platform that powers over 260,000 apps including those of Ferrari, The Food Network and Sesame Street.

Last year Facebook acquired Parse for an estimated US$85m with the intention of making Parse the main driver of Facebook’s suite of mobile app development tools.

Sukhar, who was this year named on the Forbes 30 under 30 list, was born in Moscow. His parents emigrated to the US in 1989. He was admitted to the Y Combinator program in 2011 as a solo founder.

This is the new economy

Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com at this week’s Web Summit in Dublin, Sukhar explained: “We are really invested in this cross-platform idea. Everybody out there who makes phones or operating systems is trying to fill their stack with services so that developers will stay in their environment and build apps for a particular silo of there’s.

The app economy

  • So far, consumers have downloaded more than 85bn apps from the Apple App Store, which now has around 1.3m apps. Some 400,000 of those are native to the iPad tablet computer. The Google Play store also has more than 1.3m apps and last year it breached the 50bn-download milestone.
  • In Europe alone, according to a study of the European app economy by VisionMobile and Plum Consulting, the app economy generates more than €10bn in revenues.
  • The European app economy produces more than a fifth of all apps in the world – 22pc – across all platforms, from Google to Microsoft, BlackBerry and Amazon. Downloads of apps in Europe have reached 100bn since 2008.
  • The European app economy supports 794,000 European jobs, out of which 529,000 are direct app economy jobs with 60pc of those employees working as software developers.

“But we think it should be all the platforms – iOS, Mac, Windows, Android – but we also have wearables and Oculus coming at some point so there’s lot’s of stuff being developed.

“We don’t think a developer should be locked into one silo or another but they should be able to get out as fast to the market across all platofrms.

“We are trying to help them build their app with as little pain and effort as possible and focus on the thing that is unique about their app and that is different than anything else, and help them to grow on all these platforms.

“Facebook is present on all these platforms and we want to help developers reach users and monetise across all these platforms.”

Sukhar said that Facebook has developed a broad spectrum of services to help developers create, market and monetise their apps.

At F8 this year Facebook – which now reaches 1.3bn across the planet, 80pc on mobile devices – revealed new tools that stretch beyond the social network. This included Audience Network, a way for advertisers to extend their ads beyond Facebook to other mobile apps and the ability for developers to deploy Facebook banner ads straight into their apps by just inserting a tiny piece of code.

Sukhar said the intention is to empower not only professional developers but also novice developers from kids to people changing career.

He cited the example of Michael Sayman, the teenage software developer behind 4 Snaps. “At 16 he built this game called 4 Snaps, a Pictionary type game, and he started paying his bills and then his parents bills thanks to this app. He built the app using Parse and promoted it using Facebook.

“He now works at Facebook, working on our team for some time. This is happening. This is the new economy.”

The Web Summit 2014: Interview with Ilya Sukhar of Parse and Facebook

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years