Commentary

Why Facebook Is Pulling The Plug On Parse

What better time to concede a minor defeat than immediately following an exceptional earnings report?

I assume that’s why Facebook picked Thursday to announce the fate of Parse, a service platform for mobile developers that it bought back in 2013 for a reported $85 million. Over the next 12 month, the social giant plans to wind down the service to nothing.

What changed?

Among other factors, it seems like Facebook bit off more than it could chew with Parse, and realized that rivals like Amazon, Microsoft and Google take the business of developer services quite seriously. Amazon’s Web Services, for one, have increasingly become an area of focus for CEO Jeff Bezos.

It also didn’t help that Parse CEO Ilya Sukhar left the company last year -- thus severing a core connection between Facebook and a relatively trivial business unit.

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Meanwhile, with a thriving business and soaring stock price, Facebook has never needed the developer community less. Yet, from virtual reality to the Internet of things, the company’s future success still rests in their hands. As such, the decision to ditch Parse could come back to haunt Facebook, which hasn’t always had the best relationship with mobile developers.

Especially in its early years, the social network had a reputation for stepping on developers' toes, downplaying their place in its broader ecosystem.

In recent years, Facebook has made efforts -- and significant investments -- to bring developers into the fold. Until Thursday, shelling out millions for Parse -- and then open-sourcing all of its software development kits (SDKs) -- showed Facebook’s sincerity.

But what are developers supposed to think now?

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