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Some of the most interesting entrepreneurs I get to talk to are the ones who scare Facebook. One of t
 
May 23 · Issue #143 · View online
The Interface
Some of the most interesting entrepreneurs I get to talk to are the ones who scare Facebook. One of the bigger chills sent up the spine of the social network in recent years came from Houseparty, which hit 20 million users last year with a group video chat app that has proven unusually popular with young people. 
Facebook cloned Houseparty last year with something called Bonfire, which is now testing internationally and could launch in the United States last year. That could represent an existential threat to Houseparty, which raised $50 million from Sequoia in 2016. So what’s an entrepreneur to do?
For the first episode of my new podcast, Converge, Sima Sistani came on to answer the question. Converge is an interview game show that’s easy to win — but not impossible to lose — and Sima was an incredibly game first guest. Here’s a portion of our chat about the Facebook threat:
Casey Newton: We know that Housepartu got the attention of another social network, Facebook.com, which cloned it, as they sometimes like to do. I have this theory that, anytime a group of more than four teenagers communicates on a platform that Facebook doesn’t own an air horn goes off in Menlo Park.
Sima Sistani: It’s more than four.
CN: Okay. What is it? Eight? Nine? Okay. So, the air horn went off, and they went out and they built something called Bonfire. And now, they’re testing it in, I believe, two countries. And I actually looked recently, and they’re hiring an Android engineer. So, they seem like they’re kind of going full bore on this. We have seen them try to strangle other competitors in the crib, and you’re the chief operating officer, so I wonder — how do you operate in an environment where a giant noses into your space and has you in their sights?
SS: Well, one, I think, in general … The easy answer is, we stay focused on ourselves. Honestly, with a startup, it’s always suicide, not murder.
CN: That kills you.
SS: Yeah. And that can come in a lot of different forms, and one of those is getting too concerned about the competition. That being said, I’m always in honey badger mode. That’s just part of who I am — so I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about it. But, that being said, I, also, am an optimist, by nature. So, to me, it’s validation and we stay focused on us. 
I think that if Airbnb started worrying about when Starwood was going to look into various digital strategies, they wouldn’t be Airbnb, right? So, those are the types of things that I tell myself, and I tell the team, and we stay focused on our business and scaling.
I’ve gotten some great feedback today on what people liked about the show — and some very good notes on what they didn’t. Find it on Apple or Google, or wherever fine podcasts are sold. If you enjoyed it, it would mean a lot to me if you tossed it a rating! 
And that’s enough self-promotion for one day. On to our democracy.

Democracy
Trump blocking Twitter critics is unconstitutional, court decides
Facebook will ask researchers to measure the effects of misinformation in the News Feed
Facebook follows up with members of European Parliament
Exclusive: Facebook Opens Up About False News
'There is no free lunch', Macron tells tech giant CEOs
No one’s ready for GDPR
Elsewhere
This consumer survey shows trouble ahead for Facebook
YouTubers are hiding softcore porn behind fake diamond ads
'Elitist den of hate': Silicon Valley pastor decries hypocrisy of area's rich liberals
Launches
Twitter will label election candidates with new badges on their profiles
Facebook Marketplace now lets you hire plumbers and cleaners
Facebook Won't Force You to Use a Phone Number for Two-Factor Authentication Anymore  
Facebook partners with Okta to gain workplace adoption
Facebook launches new tools for Group admins, including free customer service
Snap is launching an accelerator to invest in new media businesses
Takes
These are the questions Brussels should have asked Mark Zuckerberg
Invisible asymptotes Day
And finally ...
A French magazine has a brutal depiction of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on its cover
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Suggested podcast guests? casey@theverge.com
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