Wirehog, How Facebook Could End

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wirehog logo Wirehog, How Facebook Could End

Thefacebook.com, the social networking website which has spread across campuses from Harvard to CalTech, eclipsed half a million users yesterday as the site’s creator prepared to unveil his latest project—a file-sharing program integrated with its predecessor.
The program, named Wirehog, allows digital “friends” to connect to each other’s computers and download files, from documents to music to movies.

These were the first five lines of an article written by TheCrimson on 20 October 2004. After moving from Harvard to California with other guys, Mark Zuckerberg, while working on Facebook, decided to start a new project, Whirehog.

While Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker were working on Facebook, which had more that 500k users; Adam D’Angelo, Zuckerberg’s high school classmate, and Andrew McCollum were programming a software that was going to work into Facebook, as a feature. Between the two groups, there was Mark Zuckerberg, who instead of working full time on Facebook, decided to work at the same time with the two projects.

Whirehog was a file sharing system, that enabled friends to share music, videos and photots. The users were able to share whatever they wanted between their computers. Thanks to it, you were able to share any kind of file. This was the first step to see Facebook as a platform and not as an application.

Wirehog is a social application that lets friends exchange files of any type with each other over the web. Facebook and Wirehog are integrated so that Wirehog knows who your friends are in order to make sure that only people in your network can see your files. Facebook certifies that it is okay to enter your facebook email address and password into Wirehog for the purposes of this integration. (thefacebook.com)

Firstly developed for Mac and Windows, in Python, the program was planned to be stable also on GNU/Linux. As Mark Zuckerberg reported, he thought that Wirehog was going to be a success and that the same amount of Facebook’s users would use the software. The excitement of a twenty years old guy was evident; the cynical attitude of a real Entrepreneur didn’t even exist.

Although Wirehog could have been a great software, developed by one of the best programmers in the world (Adam D’Angelo), it didn’t have anything to do with Facebook. What Zuckerberg wasn’t able to see was that Wirehog wasn’t Facebook and it didn’t already have 500 thousands users. Further after the Napster failure, they didn’t have to think about something like that.

With a single and strong lawsuit the entire Facebook ecosystem could have faced the total and irreparable failure. Young People do stupid things in order to learn, but a real Entrepreneur should have understood how hot Facebook was. With a site like Facebook, a young CEO should keep expanding and focusing on the site.

However the Facebook rapid growth and the pressure of Sean Parker, who previously had experience with file sharing systems, shut down the service. Wirehog’s story was short and cold.

This short story in Facebook’s life shows us how people who love to build things can be distracted from other projects. If you are a creative individual, you will constantly want to build things without focusing on just a single and mere project. However you should always be capable of understanding what it is best to do. Hopefully Wirehog ended without any damage.

Edoardo Moreni

Blogger, Political Activist, Computer Scientist and Italian.