Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be speaking today at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’m here and will be live blogging his remarks, when the session begins.
Zuckerberg was set to speak at 4:50 Pacific Time, but it’s looking more likely he’ll be on around 5:10. He’ll be interviewed on stage by John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly. Live blogging to start shortly. There’s also a live stream here.
John: You had a big announcement yesterday, or yet another big announcement. Many folks have said this is a Gmail killer. Bartz said one word about you in response to your name, competitor. What’s Facebook Messages about?
Mark: We went into this not to build an email product but thinking about what would be a modern messaging system if we built from scratch. Started off yesterday’s press conference talking to his girlfriend’s sister, who is in high school, a story about that. Asked what does she use. When got to email, they were like some use Gmail, a bunch use Yahoo, but we don’t really use it that much. He asked why. It was too slow. What do you mean it’s too slow, email is instantaneous. What they meant is that it was too formal. With IM, no subjects, not threads. I think messaging in the future will resemble that. We have one conversation in real life. We don’t have 20 different threads.
So our perspective was make it simple. Get rid of subject lines, make it interoperable with SMS or email or get delivered or sent wherever.
Tim: What about idea of the friend graph.
Mark: Email filters get rid of the real junk. But you do get random emails from services that you subscribe too, that you connect to that your’e not hearing from. Email can’t differentiate between people you like more.
Tim: Gmail did a pretty good job with priority inbox.
Mark: People have agreed for a long time you should have a list of people you should hear from. And Facebook’s got a list.
Tim: There’s a fair amount of manual curation that gets old. Do you see automation in your future?
Mark: A lot of the products we build have the property that you have social dynamics that you want to share with other people, and that can be a better way than you can get to with an algorithm. Groups, photos, if you’d asked people 10 years ago how do you take big thing of photos and identify people, they’d say crunch with software. But works better if you let friends do it, people do it.
John: Some people don’t like being put in groups.
Mark: Then they can leave.
John: There’s something about Facebook in that it doesn’t ask for permission but asks for forgiveness. It keeps pushing until it hears complaints and then says sorry, and then it pulls back. Is that an intentional point of view? I’m not against that, but does it resonate with you?
Mark: Friends is important (didn’t catch part) but who your friends are the way they look at it, that you can effectively trust them.
John: But I can’t export my data.
Mark: You can export yourself. But email is different in social networks, in email program, you put addresses in there that’s really your info. Downloading that is a no brainer. But if you have email atttached ot your account, that’s yours. But social networks are different. There’s info that might be in the middle, a photo you tagged that I’m in. What can I do with that, or your email address you share with me. I’m not sure we’re 100% right on this but we’re trying to think through all of these things. Our value system errs strongly on the side of openness and connect, single largest system that lets people bring their data in. But feedback we get on day to day basis from 100s of millions of people is they want control that their info stay with those they want to see it.
Tim: However you get an email address, you have the option manually to transfer it. It seems a bit of sophostry to say you can suck it in from Google but not out.
Mark: What you’re saying is basically true. Same with photos. Technically, I could download your photos. But if you try to send it else, we give you an error message. We’re trying to give control. I’m not sure we’re completely right, but I don’t think it’s a black and white thing.
John: Now we have Congress looking closely at things, internet privacy, can you go to them and say leave us alone, we’re figuring it out.
Mark: My guess in next 15-20 years, not sure time, data portability will play out more and make more sense. These are some of the intellectual debates we have within the company. One reason why Facebook is so exciting, at the forefront of some of these issues.
Tim: I do think despite you’re in tough position, what you’re doing is right, we have to push boundaries, if we set rules, we won’t move ahead.
John: Competion. With Open Graph and Likes spreading out across the web, it seems Facebook’s business model is about ready to spread, kind of like what GOogle did with AdSense? Is that a good idea?
Mark: I think we’re earlier stage than when Google did that.
John: You have a good and profitable ad system as I understand it.
Mark: We’re doing OK
John: But the web is much bigger.
Mark: We’re getting started with ads and I think that’s ramping up well. I think we have a lot left to do. Same on the credit side where that’s really just getting started. I think over next 5 years, most industries will get social and redesigned around people. In college, there were Kazass or iTunes or Amazon or Google but there was no “people service.” Struck us as weird, because people are people-based. So built a people directory, and it became popular.
A few years in, engineers started developing additional products. 2-3 people at Facebook building photo sharing against a team at Flickr or an events service. Very simple products, no high-res photos, but it was easy, you could send to all your friends. It turned out that social feature was the most important feature. A social version of anything can be more engaging and outperform a non-social one. So in 2007, we decided to help others build off of us. Games, there have been four really good game companies built on top of Facebook. The way that we look at this is that this is really disruptive. Zynga worth billions now.
I do agree that games have been the first big vertical to tip and be thought of social. Even if you go back to the early PC, games helped bring them into their homes.
John: So what’s next?
Mark: It’s not obvious. You don’t just plug social in.
John: What are you doing that other should avoid?
Mark: We focus on people. News, movies, over the next five years, those things will be rethought, new incumbents. And getting back to ads, we should play a role in helping to reform and rethink those industries. In gaming, we get some percentage through them buying ads and credits, but that’s all because we’re helping them. If we help other industries, some back from that.
Tim: But you’ve got two things, your platform and giving data outbound. Social enabling other people is a powerful ability you have. Which do you decide?
Mark: Recently our thinking has come around that they are different things and it makes sense for people to do both.
Tim: But if someone wanted to make a social music app, or we wanted ot help Google who’s not your best friend compete with Apple, or anyone who wanted to partner with you, which is it?
Mark: Our default is to build an open platform. Groups, locations, we view as foundational building blocks of the social graph. Anything that doesn’t have to be built by use, we’d rather not build [funny Google has said the same thing about all the me-too products it has built over the years]. We fundamentally aren’t going to build these things ourselves. But if you’re Google and Apple and wnat to do music, you build or acquire. We view why not enable the entrepreneurs to do it, and we think it will blow everything else out of the water.
John: But some entrepreneurs feel you have too much power. Do you believe there’s only one social graph. Do you feel that pressure of power?
Mark: You hear the criticism that you’re talking about, but at the same time the apps that have done the best are those that have gone all in [to Facebook]. Companies build apps assuming all their users will be socially enabled. It’s a different modality of thinking. If you go in building an app expecting people will be there with their friends, that’s a different app. I think we’re only now entering a zone where the best entrepreneurs will think of working with us. If we’d done instant personalization a few years ago, it wouldn’t have been that interesting. We just didn’t have the user base. Now if 60-70% of a site’s users are Facebook users, makes sense. Few years ago, might have been 10%.
Are there going to be different graphs? I think so. Each services are mapping out their own parts of the graph and they should help make the different services be interoperable.
John: Tim opened conference with call for more cooperation. You have dust-up with Google. Is that going to be resolved? Is that a goal of yours?
Mark: Which part?
John: It seems form the outside that you’ve said you don’t want to partner, that we want to keep that key control to ourselves. Don’t want to build an Apple social graph that threatens us.
Mark: We don’t think that way. We build 10s of millions of infrastructure to support games. We sat down with games makers to say we dont have formal relationship, we want to build stuff out for you, and we need to formalize that relationship. That’s all we require. For any college student or entrepreneur, we don’t require any relationship. But if you’re a big company, we want to understand how you’re going to use the data and contribute back [final, some decent reason for saying no to Google, what do we get back].
John: (Miss some reference about working with Apple.)
Mark: Our view every product is going to get social, get on the bus (I gather this is over the Jobs-Zuckerberg discussion on Ping and saying no). I think this is going to be a really exciting period. Some are going to make things around people. Some aren’t going to make it. But over the next five years, everyone’s going to have to think about this, just like they have to think about mobile. I think people will get there. They just need to take the steps to get comfortable. A slow approach isn’t necessarily bad.
Tim: How do you maintain the company culture you want?
Mark: You pick a few behaviors you want the company to have. We have five values we write down. Two espeically: move fast and be bold. Technology companies are interesting, they get slower with scale. One of the things I think about every day is how do we make this company move as quickly as possible. That’s a really big deal. A company with a few hundred engineers putting out the quality of products we do, I’m really proud of it.
Tim: Is that chance to influence thing why you’re sucking in talent from other companies. What’s your magic?
Mark: Good people have way to seek out what’s good for them. Been more than a million people per engineer at the company. They try to keep a ratio. If you’re a Google or Microsoft, you have basically all the people. I think talented people have a knack to find and seek out the positions where they’ll have the most leverage. The messaging team from yesterday, Boz, was one of the first people to join. The engineering manager was building classified on top of Facebook and just wanted to be part of it. One was an intern, who I asked some question in a presentation, and he went off on me on how I was wrong. I was like great, we’re hiring this guy when he graduates. These are opportunities you just don’t get in a lot of places. I think it’s a really exciting place to be.
Q&A: What’s it like to be so young and successful and lesson you’ve had to learn.
Mark: I’ve made so many mistakes. Any mistake you can think of, I’ve probably made. But I think of anything, the Facebook story is a great example if you’re building a product you love, you can make mistakes.
Q&A: Daughter studies with Facebook on, seems to work, is education a place to expand to with apps and services to make education social?
Mark: Spent a lot of time researching education. One of the issues, you can’t actually sign-up for Facebook unless your 13 without parents permission [and I'm prety sure even then, you have to lie about your age]. A lot of communications we do go over IM. Reason why people do that is that it’s convenient (think he said) to use. Education software just hasn’t been as good to use.
Q&A: Been telling my customers social should be in any site, that “normal” businesses should do it. Do you agree?
Mark: Social applications are just much more engaging. You could play a game or play a game with your friends. You can listen to music or listen to music and see waht your friends like. Social apps are just more engaging. There might be other things peopel come up with for normal business outside those thought of as doing well at Facebook, say games.
John: Should Groupon be worried?
Mark: I think we want to work with them. It’s a deal platform. We don’t have a sales force selling that.
Q&A: How much commission will you take?
Mark: You want me to just pick a number?
Q&A: Reported about a bug that killed accounts that were indeed legit, what happened?
Mark: No new info, apologies to users, not related to messaging.
Q&A: What should get 500 million small businesses to move to Facebook as people have done?
Mark: We have this whole pages product?
John: That’s mainly for big brands [it's totally not]
Mark: There are smaller entities.
John: Are you interested in the busienss social graph, connections between busiensses?
Mark: I don’t really know what that means [and looks like he doesn't get the idea of a B2B social network]
Q&A: [didn't catch, will go to answer]
Mark: If you buy my vision that all these vertical will get rethought, we’ll help those businesses get built, and they can plug in the social part, we’ll be enabling, and that I think is the bigger long term opportunity. Looks at map behind him of the internet world, “I tink the biggest part of the map is uncharted territory”
Q&A: Mobile social, can you give risk taking thing that Facebook can do to move it.
Mark: Just a couple weeks ago we announce a few things we thought were key, single sign-on. Remembering your password is hard. Single-signon now, you could’t do that like on iPhone until Apple made a change. Now if you have Facebook app, you can get into other things. That I think is a really foundational thing. Deals is also a platform, an engine that anyone can plug into. Mobile is an interesting space now. The mobile platform is just getting started, and collaboration will enable really good things.
And that’s it. Sorry about any typos and misspelling. I know they are some. Had to type very fast.
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