Monday, 16 March 2009

Zuckerberg and the future of Facebook

26th October 2005, Zuckerberg explains how you can monetize users "pretty easily"; today he would have said different things...

Mark Zuckerberg was 19 years old when he created Facebook, with Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. It was February 4th 2004 and nobody could imagine that after 5 years Facebook has almost 200 million active users worldwide.
Zuckerberg & friends moved to Silicon Valley during the summer of 2004 (the world is NOT flat, Mr. Thomas Friedman!) and they looked for investors.

October 2008: Zuckerberg says: "What every great internet company has done is to figure out a way to make money that has to match to what they are doing on the site. I don't think social networks can be monetized in the same way that search did. But on both sites people find information valuable. I'm pretty sure that we will find an analogous business model. But we are experimenting already. One group is very focused on targeting; another part is focused on social recommendation from your friends. In three years from now we have to figure out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today."

3 years can mean October 2011! Does Zuckerberg think he has such a long time?
The future of Facebook doesn't depend only on Zuckerberg but it depends on its investors too:
- Microsoft put $240 million
- Li Ka-shing put $120 million
- TriplePoint Capital put $100 million
and others (full list here)

According to Techcrunch (article of October 2008):
"The company is likely spending well over a $1 million per month on electricity alone"
"With 750 employees and growing, Facebook is spending at least another $10 million per month on payroll."
"It costs a couple of hundred million dollars a year just to keep the lights on at Facebook. But the real problem is keeping up with growth, particularly storage needs. Add another $100 million or more per year for capital expenditures, and you’ve got a company that’s doing exactly the opposite of printing money."

Time is running out for Zuckerberg, it's going to be "Facebook must make money or sell Facebook"

It would be nice to have an etiquette for Facebook, how long do we have to wait for?

The Economist asked "Cameron Marlow, the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook, to crunch some numbers. Dr Marlow found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120" and "women tend to have somewhat more than men"[...] "Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten."

1st phase Feb 2004-Aug 2005 Facebook only for US university
2nd phase Sep 2005-25 Sep 2006 Facebook only for US university and high schools
3rd phase 26 Sep 2006-today Facebook is open for everyone of ages 13 and older with a valid e-mail address

What would Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) think about Facebook? He could think it's the Panopticon of the XXI century with important diffences:
- in Panopticon there are prisoners and observers; prisoners don't choose to lose privacy.
- in Facebook people do choose to lose part of privacy
- in Facebook everybody can be an observer

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