Monday, March 10, 2008

Facebook Faceoff

Ah to be 23 and worth $15 Billion…Keynote interview yesterday with the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was as interesting for what he said as it was for the crowd’s hostility toward the interviewer, BusinessWeek columnist Sarah Lacy. But i'll get to that.

First, what he said…with more than 60 million active users and billions of page views a month, Z seems remarkably obssessed with the social change aspects that he believes Facebook can enable. Throughout, he responded to questions about monetization, IPOs and the like with “I’m just really not that focussed on that part”… What he is focused on is creating a platform.

His described the platform as “…trying to help people connect and communicate more effectively. Removing the friction that we think helps people build trusting relationships.” He talked about the platform in ways that would make Robert Metcalf proud (The inventor of Ehternet describes the power of the network as residing in the power interconnectedness of devices at it’s periphery). He asked aloud, “Why do advocacy issues require big, centralized groups, like the NRA, to enable consitituency’s voices to be heard?” He believes Facebook can be the facilitator (another great DePaul campaign idea ;) of bottom up change.

He described anecdotal stories of Facebook, and the connectedness it enables, being used to combat Colombian guerillas and in Lebanon to dissuade youths from pursuing a path of isolation and extremism. He also confirmed that Facebook (which is currently available in Spanish and English) would be launched in France tonight (you heard it hear first!).

Discussed running the business around breakeven right now…this is enabling them to pursue these larger social change objectives…building Facebook as a business, it would seem, is a means to an end. His vision impacts the larger trend of advertising…as people are communicating with each other more, then the reality is that endorsements (from one person to the people they are directly connected to) become the dominant influence on awareness and perception (prior to an actual brand experience).

And now, what she said. The interviewer was a crowd disfavorite. She was booed at least twice and the crowd of more than 1000 audibly groaned and gasped on several occasions. She alternately was smug and flighty, generally asking questsions that required only a yes or no answer and on one occasion even interrupting one of Zuckerberg’s answers in mid-sentence to change the subject to a story she wanted to tell! She promoted a book she wrote in the interview and generally seemed to be confused about just who was supposed to be the center of attention. The crowd made sure she had access to its collective wisdom on that question.

1 comment:

  1. ...and here is a ZDNet post on the debacle:

    I found a 10 minute YouTube video in case some one wants to see some of it.