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The Huffington Post  |  By Posted:  |  Updated: 08/03/12 04:26 PM ET

App.net Founder Dalton Caldwell Tells Facebook Execs To Get Lost

Say Mark Zuckerberg called you one day and said he wanted to buy your startup. Here's the catch: Facebook was planning to kill your company's signature product because it was too competitive with something they were also building. What would you do?

If you were Dalton Caldwell, founder of App.net, you would reject the offer and follow up with a scathing letter accusing Facebook of bullying and back-stabbing.

In a missive Caldwell posted to his personal blog Wednesday, the 32-year old entrepreneur recounts a meeting on June 13 with a handful of senior Facebook execs. Leading up to meeting, Caldwell had spent a year building an app atop the Facebook platform that aims to help users find which apps their friends are using on Facebook.

He agreed to give the execs a gander, in the hopes that Facebook would assist him with the product's upcoming launch. Instead, they said the app was competitive to Facebook's newly released App Center. The execs then tried to give Caldwell an offer he couldn't refuse: Sell your business to Facebook, allow the App Center to swallow up your baby, or we'll crush your company.

"I was not interested in an acqui-hire," Caldwell wrote in his letter, titled "Dear Mark Zuckerberg." The irritated developer argued that the company's threatening "M&A formula" is poor form. “Bad-faith negotiations are inexcusable, and I didn’t want to believe your company would stoop this low,” Caldwell added. "My mistake."

Above all, Caldwell laments that social networks like Twitter and Facebook are no longer open platforms upon which entrepreneurs can build businesses. In their fight to gobble up revenue, Caldwell claims the sites are shutting down innovative apps that are lucrative for outside developers, but not for the companies themselves.

In the aftermath of Caldwell's missive, Marc Andreessen, a noted Silicon Valley venture capitalist who sat on the boards of both Facebook and App.net's parent company, reportedly removed himself from the latter to avoid conflicts of interest.

Facebook has previously convinced hot technology startups to join its growing empire. Check out some of the other Facebook talent grabs in this slideshow of Top Tech 'Acqui-Hires':

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  • Facebook - Drop.io

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/29/facebook-acquires-drop-io-nabs-sam-lessin/" target="_hplink">Founder Sam Lessin</a> (pictured above), now part of Facebook's Product Management in charge of user profile pages. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <strong>Date acquired:</strong> October 29, 2010 In a <a href="http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/10/29/facebook-dropio/" target="_hplink">statement about the acquisition</a> Facebook said: "We can confirm that we recently completed a small talent acquisition for drop.io and acquired most of the company's assets. We're thrilled that Sam Lessin will be joining us."

  • Facebook - Hot Potato

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Justin Shaffer and Saadiq Rodgers-King (pictured above) <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Reportedly <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/28/facebook-to-pay-10-million-cash-for-hot-potato-says-source/" target="_hplink">$10 million</a> <strong>Date acquired:</strong> August 20, 2010

  • Facebook - Beluga

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Ben Davenport (pictured above), Lucy Zhang and Jonathan Perlow <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <strong>Date acquired:</strong> March 2, 2011 In a<a href="http://gigaom.com/2011/03/01/facebook-follows-our-advice-buys-beluga/" target="_hplink">statement about the acquisition</a> Facebook said: "We're psyched to confirm that we've just acquired the talent and assets of Beluga, whose simple and elegant mobile apps blew us away as a solution to help groups of friends stay in touch on the move. We're looking forward to welcoming co-founders Ben Davenport, Lucy Zhang and Jonathan Perlow, and we're excited that the team will continue their vision for groups and mobile communication as part of Facebook."

  • Facebook - FriendFeed

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Co-Founders Bret Taylor (now Facebook CTO - pictured above), Jim Norris, Sanjeev Singh and a dozen managers and engineers. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> $47 million <strong>Date acquired:</strong> August 10, 2009 This quote from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg appeared in the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/18/technology/18talent.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3" target="_hplink">New York Times</a>: "We really wanted to get Bret."

  • Google - Aardvark

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/11/google-acquires-aardvark-for-50-million/" target="_hplink">Max Ventilla (pictured above) and Nathan Stoll</a>. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> $50 million <strong>Date acquired:</strong> February 12, 2010 <a href="http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/google-acquires-aardvark.html" target="_hplink">Google</a> made this statement about the acquisition on their blog: "We're very impressed with the Aardvark team and the technology they've worked hard to build, and we're looking forward to collaborating to see where we can take it."

  • Google - Slide

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Max Levchin (pictured above), now <a href="http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/08/25/slide-levchin-gundotra/" target="_hplink">Google VP of Engineering</a> <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/04/google-buys-slide-for-182-million-getting-more-serious-about-social-games/" target="_hplink">$182 million</a> <strong>Date acquired:</strong> August 5, 2010 Of Levchin, Google spokesperson Andrew Pederson said "[He] will be working on social products with a variety of teams."

  • Google - Like.com

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Munjal Shah (pictured above) <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed. (Estimated at around <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/20/its-official-google-acquires-like-com/" target="_hplink">$100 million</a>.) <strong>Date acquired:</strong> August 15, 2010

  • Google - reMail

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Gabor Cselle, now <a href="http://venturebeat.com/2010/02/17/remail-google/" target="_hplink">product manager of Gmail</a>. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <strong>Date acquired:</strong> February 17, 2010

  • Zygna - Area/Code

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Frank Lantz and Demetri Detsaridis (pictured above) who are now General Manager and Creative Director of <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/21/zynga-acquires-social-game-developer-areacode-launches-new-york-office/" target="_hplink">Zynga New York</a> respectively. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <strong>Date acquired:</strong> January 21, 2011

  • Zynga - Unoh

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Shintaro Yamada, now General Manager of Zynga Japan. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <strong>Date acquired:</strong> August 5th, 2010 CEO and Founder of <a href="http://www.techgearx.com/zynga-confirms-unoh-acquisition/" target="_hplink">Zynga Mark Pincus</a> said this about Unoh: "Zynga is delighted to welcome the Unoh team, one of the pioneer Japanese social game developers, to the Zynga family. They have a great track record of producing innovative, successful games and are a perfect complement to the top-notch team we have already begun to assemble in Japan."

  • Twitter - Fluther

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Co-Founders Ben Finkel (pictured above) and Andrew McClain, as well as Tim Trueman, Richard Henry, and Cameron Dutro. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <strong>Date acquired:</strong> December 21, 2010 <a href="http://blog.twitter.com/2010/12/fluther-flocks-to-twitter.html" target="_hplink">Twitter</a> said this about the acquisition: "During our conversations with Fluther's team, we were continually impressed by their technical talent, entrepreneurial spirit, and much of the thinking behind the question-and-answer product they've spent the last couple of years building."

  • Twitter - Summize

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Co-founder Abdur Chowdhury (pictured above), now <a href="http://www.seobythesea.com/?p=4761" target="_hplink">Chief Scientist at Twitter</a> and five other engineers. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/2008/7/twitter-buys-summize-for-about-15m-stock-and-cash" target="_hplink">Estimated at $15 million </a><strong>Date acquired:</strong> July 14, 2008 <a href="http://blog.twitter.com/2008/07/finding-perfect-match.html" target="_hplink">Twitter </a>said this about the acquisition on their blog: "We're excited to announce that Twitter has acquired Summize--an extraordinary search tool and an amazing group of engineers. All five Summize engineers will move to San Francisco, CA and take jobs at Twitter, Inc. This is an important step forward in the evolution of Twitter as a service and as a company."

  • Groupon - Pelago

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> CEO Jeff Holden who now oversees <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/groupon-acq-hires-whrrl-maker-pelago-and-ceo-jeff-holden-an-ex-amazon-exec-2011-4" target="_hplink">product development at Groupon</a>. <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <strong>Date acquired:</strong> April 18, 2011 <a href="http://www.groupon.com/blog/cities/groupon-acquires-pelago/" target="_hplink">Groupon</a> said this about the acquisition on their blog: "We've always liked CEO Jeff Holden, the Whrrl team and the technology they've developed. Their obsession with real-world serendipitous discovery, or 'Anti-Search,' is core to Groupon's mission."

  • LinkedIn - ChoiceVendor

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> Rama Ranganath and Yan-David Erlich (pictured above). <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <strong>Date acquired:</strong> September 23, 2010 <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/23/linkedin-choicevendor/" target="_hplink">LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner</a> said this about the acquisition: "Our acquisition of ChoiceVendor is right in line with our top priority to build a world-class team at LinkedIn. We've admired the work that Yan-David, Rama, and the talented ChoiceVendor team have done for some time now and are excited to have them join us, especially given their highly relevant work experience."

  • LinkedIn - mSpoke

    <strong>Talent acquired:</strong> CEO Sean Ammirati (pictured above), Chairman of the board Dave Mawhinney, CTO Dean Thompson and tech team. <strong>Date acquired:</strong> August 4, 2010 <strong>Acquisition price:</strong> Undisclosed <a href="http://press.linkedin.com/press_center/?id=197" target="_hplink">LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner</a> said this about the acquisition: "mSpoke and LinkedIn's shared focus on generating relevant content make this acquisition a natural fit for us. We're actively investing in solutions that help deliver valuable professional insights to LinkedIn members. The addition of mSpoke's talented team of technologists make it an even more compelling opportunity for LinkedIn."

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