Facebook Hires HTML5 App Store Builder

Over the past few months, my colleague MG Siegler has been piecing together the puzzle around Facebook’s Project Spartan, which is the social network’s secret plan to bring applications to the mobile web via HTML5. Today, we’ve learned that Facebook has made a key hire in the HTML5 space. We’ve confirmed that the social network has hired Teck Chia, who was the founder and CEO of OpenAppMkt.com, an app store for HTML5 mobile web apps.

Facebook didn’t actually acquire OpenAppMkt, but just hired Chia away. OpenAppMkt has been handed over to a new team and Chia’s no longer involved. For background, OpenAppMkt, which was incubated in Founders Den, launched as a centralized store for HTML5 mobile applications.

Before OpenAppMkt, Chia created and operated a number of Facebook apps with over 20 million users cumulatively. He also founded Gabbly, an instant chat/collaboration tool used by over 4 million users, and was an engineer at Oracle.

As MG has reported in the past, Project Spartan is the HTML5-driven mobile application platform that Facebook has been quietly building for months with the help of a group of third-party app developers. The thought by many is that Facebook is trying to break up the control Apple and Google have over the mobile app space, and Facebook is betting in HTML5. And we learned more about BoltJS, a UI framework that’s being built by Facebook for the purpose “helping developers build fantastic mobile web applications in HTML5 and Javascript.”

Clearly Chia brings significant expertise to Facebook in terms of possibly creating an app store for Facebook’s HTML5 platform. Of course, we can’t confirm that Chia is working on Project Spartan but it seems likely considering his background.