Bring Your Own Platform (BYOP): Build, Buy, or Borrow?

Oren Michels (Mashery), Seth Sternberg (Google), Jessica Alter (Bebo), Chris Damsen (Netvibes), Jeff Roberto (Friendster)
Location: San Diego Ballroom B

Facebook has Platform. Google has OpenSocial. Many social networks are choosing to also roll out their own application platform offering. See an overview of social platforms from Bebo, meebo, and NetVibes, and find out what choices they made in creating their social platforms.

Photo of Oren Michels

Oren Michels


Oren Michels brings more than 15 years of experience to his job as CEO of Mashery. Michels has a proven track record with experience across multiple industries. Previously, Michels was vice president of business development at Feedster, where he negotiated partnerships with AOL, Real Networks and Mitsui, and oversaw the company’s activities in China. Prior to Feedster, Michels was president of Colt HR, a leading provider of outsourced benefits administration software and services to the mid market. He also co-founded WiFinder, an international provider of directory services for wi-fi public access hotspots; served as president of, where he managed the company’s growth and helped establish it as a leading online wine auction market; served as COO of two manufacturing companies; and as CEO of The Groundlings, an entertainment production company in Hollywood.

Michels began his career as a software designer for Hughes Aircraft and has been a consultant to companies in the management, financial, marketing and information technology industries. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from MIT and an MBA in finance and entrepreneurial studies from UCLA’s Anderson School.

Photo of Seth Sternberg

Seth Sternberg


Seth is a Product Director at Google X. Prior to Google X, Seth was the Product Director for the Google+ Platform, where he and team launched “Sign in with Google”. Seth joined Google through its acquisition of Meebo, where he was Co-Founder and CEO. Meebo, a consumer Internet company, reached more than half of the U.S. internet population, working to make sites more social and engaging.

Seth, along with college friends Elaine Wherry and Sandy Jen, started Meebo in 2005. Meebo was installed on more than 8,000 websites including Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, TMZ, Dilbert, and The Washington Examiner. Meebo investors included Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, Time Warner, True Ventures and others.

Prior to starting Meebo, Sternberg worked in IBM’s Corporate Development group.

In his spare time, Sternberg mentors aspiring entrepreneurs, spends a bunch of time on a bicycle and is an avid pilot. He has spoken at several industry events and has been featured on CNBC, in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and WIRED, among others. Sternberg graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and attended (but ultimately dropped out of) Stanford Business School.

Photo of Jessica Alter

Jessica Alter


Jessica is Director of Platform and Business Development at Bebo. She leads the platform strategy and community at Bebo as well as multiple business development efforts. Prior to Bebo Jessica worked in business development at Hands-On Mobile. She holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from University of Michigan and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Photo of Chris Damsen

Chris Damsen


Chris Damsen is VP Business Development at Netvibes. During his six-year tenure as Senior Director of Business Development at, Chris led its syndication division to more than $200M in annual revenue. He also established key relationships with more than 100 partners including AOL, Google, Lycos, BellSouth, CNET, Apple, EarthLink, and InfoSpace.

Jeff Roberto


Jeff has over 11 years experience managing multi-faceted programs in social media, e-commerce, product development, and partner marketing for Internet companies and services. He’s currently developing new customer acquisition and retention marketing programs for Friendster. Jeff joined Friendster in 2004 and was the first member of Friendster’s marketing team. He’s very active in the social media space and publicly speaks often regarding trends and thought leadership in Web 2.0.

Prior to joining Friendster, Jeff held an E-Commerce Manager position at Roxio/Napster, Inc. from 2000-2004. He worked on various online marketing programs for both brands and managed Roxio’s e-tail software business.

Before Roxio, he spent three years at and oversaw the launch of several marketing initiatives including affiliates, search engine strategies and partner incentive programs. Earlier in his career, Jeff was a member of the intellectual property team at Walker Digital, LLC (company that founded and Promotions Director for WHUS Radio (UConn). Jeff holds a BA in Marketing/Communications from the University of Connecticut.


Platinum Sponsor

  • Yahoo! Inc.

Gold Sponsors

  • CollegeNET
  • Friendster
  • Google
  • introNetworks
  • RockYou
  • Userplane

AppNite Sponsors

  • Charles River Venture
  • Facebook
  • SocialMedia

Premier Media Partner

  • BNet