FiftyThree’s story began with Paper. What began with three guys building an app out of a New York City apartment has gone on to become one of the most celebrated applications on iOS, defining mobile creativity and winning Apple’s 2012 iPad App of the Year. Paper embodied our belief that technology should support the human need to create. It’s a beautifully simple app that lets anyone capture their ideas and share them over the web. For millions of creators around the world, Paper is where they call home for their ideas—100 million, in fact, over the last two years. Paper has come to represent endless creative potential, and we couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to our story.
Stories have twists.
So it came as a surprise when we learned on January 30th with everyone else that Facebook was announcing an app with the same name—Paper. Not only were we confused but so were our customers (twitter) and press (1,2,3,4). Was this the same Paper? Nope. Had FiftyThree been acquired? Definitely not. Then, what’s going on?
We reached out to Facebook about the confusion their app was creating, and they apologized for not contacting us sooner. But an earnest apology should come with a remedy.
Stories reveal character.
There’s a simple fix here. We think Facebook can apply the same degree of thought they put into the app into building a brand name of their own. An app about stories shouldn’t start with someone else’s story. Facebook should stop using our brand name.
On a personal level we have many ties to Facebook. Many friends, former students and colleagues are doing good work at Facebook. One of Facebook’s board members is an investor in FiftyThree. We’re a Facebook developer, and Paper supports sharing to Facebook where close to 500,000 original pages have been shared. Connections run deep.
What will Facebook’s story be? Will they be the corporate giant who bullies their developers? Or be agile, recognize a mistake, and fix it? Is it “Move fast and break things” or “Move fast and make things”?
We’re all storytellers. And we show care for each other by caring for our stories. Thanks for supporting us.
I don’t think of design as a job. I think of it as—and I hate to use this term for it—more of a calling. If you’re just doing it because it’s a nice job and you want to go home and do something else, then don’t do it, because nobody needs what you’re going to make.