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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Man who took on Mark Zuckerberg

Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times  Washington, March 24, 2013
First Published: 21:54 IST(24/3/2013) | Last Updated: 23:03 IST(24/3/2013)

The 30-year-old co-founder of MessageMe, a multimedia messaging app that’s the current rage, refused to concede defeat or disappointment at being shut out by Facebook.

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“We are okay,” Sethi said, “focussed on our product and users.” Not disappointed. Not dispirited. Defiant? The mood at the three-week-old start up was actually celebratory.

The app had just logged 1 million users, and recently got seed investments of $1.9 million.

MessageMe was launched as an app integrated with Facebook — accessible to users from the social networking giant’s page, as scores of others such as games. Last Friday, Facebook cut it out.

MessageMe CEO Sethi is not entirely surprised. From his years of experience, he has known the social networking giant through its ups and downs. And its moods.

“I was not shocked or surprised,” he said.

Sethi is a second generation Indian American born to parents from Punjab (father) and Mumbai (mother). He is married to Harshita Pant, a World Banker from India.

He started out as an intern on Capitol Hill, but it held no charm for him, or future.

Sethi landed up in a gaming company shortly thereafter, where he met the people who would become the core of his team through the next few transitions to where he is now.

Sethi said work started on MessageMe last April.

And by the time they were through with it, the app was a bit of everything, and by design, not chance: YouTube, Twitter and few more features, which would become its trademark.

Users loved it, pushing it right up to number 2 position in social networking in the US. And then came the axe — which Facebook has not really explained.

Doug Purdy, Facebook’s director of developer products, told the Wall Street Journal: “We enforce our policies for a variety of reasons, ranging from preventing spam and protecting the experience people have on Facebook.”

And carried on to add: “To the rare case when a developer is using our platform to replicate our core functionality without enabling people to share back to Facebook.”

MessageMe is in competition with Facebook’s messaging service but, its founder will argue, the start up is more exciting, promising an all-around experience. Including the best technology.


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