Telegram isn’t conceding the bot market to Facebook or any other messaging platform — it’s putting more resources into building its service out. The company revealed that in order to attract developers to its service, its founder Pavel Durov will be giving away $1 million in grants to those who “create an impressive bot” using Telegram’s Bot API. Grants start at $25,000 each and could go higher.
In a blog post, the company suggested that areas developers should focus on include integrations, tools for bot builders, AI stuff, and natural language processing. However, it doesn’t want to limit a bot’s potential and asks to be surprised.
“We don’t mind if you port your bot from a different platform,” the company explains. “Just make sure it really feels at home in Telegram.” Bots must be fast, useful, and ideally should also work in the app’s inline mode.
To submit a bot, Telegram asks that developers contact them at BotSupport and include their work’s username and the tag #BotPrize.
With Facebook’s entry into the bot market, there’s certainly a war to win over the hearts and minds of developers. Many might lean more toward Facebook because its Messenger reaches 900 million monthly active users — by comparison, Durov’s company has 100 million monthly active users. However, Telegram hasn’t given up, even releasing a major update to its Bot API just days before the F8 developer conference. Competition is certainly fierce, given that it’s going head to head against Kik, WeChat, Line, and Slack.
Developers have until December 31, 2016 to submit their bots although Telegram will give out funds throughout the year. And while grants start at $25,000, how bots will be judged remain unknown, but it’s probably at the discretion of Telegram. It could be assumed that the more useful and creative the bot is, the more that Durov will pay out, which means those funds will likely support further bot development on the messaging platform.
Updated on 5:38 p.m. Pacific on Friday: The final deadline to submit bots to Telegram for grant consideration is December 31, 2016. This post has been updated to reflect this.