App developer Dalton Caldwell has accused Facebook of threatening to destroy the businesses built by developers working with its open platform, and using "bad faith negotiations".
Written in an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his company blog, Caldwell says that the social network pressured him into selling his company, rather than letting it compete with its newly released App Center.
In the letter, Caldwell recalled his meeting with Facebook's developer relations team in mid-June, where he was expecting to get "executive-level support" for his upcoming app, which would use Facebook Connect and the Open Graph to let users see which apps their friends were using.
Caldwell addresses Zuckerberg:
"The meeting took an odd turn when the individuals in the room explained that the product I was building was competitive with your recently-announced Facebook App Center product. Your executives explained to me that they would hate to have to compete with the 'interesting product' I had built, and that since I am a 'nice guy with a good reputation' that they wanted to acquire my company to help build App Center."
Put simply, Caldwell believes that Facebook was hoping he would agree to an 'acqui-hire' deal, where his company is bought and shutdown, while he is hired by Facebook to work on App Center.
"The execs in the room made clear that the success of my product would be an impediment to your ad revenue financial goals, and thus even offering me the chance to be acquired was a noble and kind move on their part."
The developer goes on to say that his experience with Facebook is not isolated.
"Several other startup founders and Facebook employees have told me that what I experienced was part of a systematic M&A 'formula'. Your team doesn't seem to understand that being 'good negotiators' vs implying that you will destroy someone's business built on your 'open platform' are not the same thing."
Caldwell told Facebook that he would rather re-focus his App.net application, and so he's now building a "real-time feed API and service" that will provide an open platform for developers to build on.
Concluding his letter, Caldwell believes that instead of giving developers the option of being beaten by Facebook or bought out by it, developers need a new framework that isn't tied to the financial incentives of companies like itself and Twitter - this is what he's trying to do now with App.net.
Caldwell hopes that by charging for his service, instead of being free and supported by ad revenue, will allign his commercial interests with those of his framework's users.
Unfortunately, with just 11 days to go in his bid for funding, Caldwell has raised just $131,700 (£64,700) of his $500,000 goal.
We contacted Facebook looking for a response to the comments made be Caldwell but at the time of publication it had not got back to us.