One of the most interesting things I read about the launch of Facebook Paper focused on how it came about. It was the first output from Facebook Creative Labs, an initiative that has been deliberately set up to enable small teams to come together to work on experimental projects including new standalone apps. Until now, much of Facebook's innovation pipeline (including Chat, Events calendar, video uploads and so on) came from their regular hackathons which mostly focused on ways of augmenting the core experience.
But as Facebook has scaled, even the smallest changes can have potentially significant impacts on it's business, so experimentation becomes much tougher (Paper’s product designer Mike Matas apparently says that playing with the main app or site is like ‘going in and messing up a billion people’s furniture’). Paper came out of a fifteen person team that worked for over a year to create this re-imagining of the newsfeed as a separate app. But unlike a traditional skunkworks approach, Creative Labs is not a physical space or a formal reorganisation of the company but 'a way to explore new forms of social connection'. It's also an interesting way, I think, to maintain agility as you scale, and a good platform from which to focus on building a suite of standalone mobile apps.