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Facebook: It’s Growing Up, Just Like You - And Only Getting Bigger

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Posted 13th October 2008 at 08:30 AM by creative_master

Although this might be slightly old news, it still something worth writing about. A new report from Peter Schilling, the Director of IT @ Amherst College, said that 438 students who enrolled at Amherst this fall, 432 had joined the Amherst College Class of 2012 Facebook Group by the end of August (classes started the first week of September). Schilling also said that 3,225 posts were made in the group by that time.
To think that only six students out of an entire class are not on Facebook is quite an astonishing fact. Over the past four years Facebook has become a second language on college campuses nationwide. Ask almost any student what ‘friending’, ‘poking’ or ‘leaving a message on someone’s wall’ means and they will be able to tell you almost instantly.
Facebook is your identity.
For many teenagers, college students, young adults, and even adults; Facebook is simply irresistible. It honestly is. Just look @ the numbers:
  • Just this past June, Facebook became the largest social network by reach at 132 million uniques, a 35% jump from the end of 2007, according to comScore.
  • Facebook’s user base grew by nearly 25% to 102 million active users. Facebook nearly added 20 million more members during the third quarter, 80% of which came from outside the U.S.
  • 17 countries now have more than 1 million Facebook users: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey, Chile, France, Australia, Colombia, Venezuela, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Argentina. South Africa and Belgium will be next to cross the mark.
  • Facebook’s torrid growth in Europe and South America has continued. 10 of the 15 fastest growing countries in 3Q08 were European; 3 were South American.
Despite the international growth, Zuckerberg (Sir Mark), recently said in a German Newspaper interview that the company is focused on growth first, revenue second.
Sir Mark said:
“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… Growth is primary, revenue is secondary.”
And when asked about a potential IPO:
“No, we are really not planning to go public. For the next few years we are really focused on user growth.”
Finally, when asked about why the company is allowing employees to sell up to 20% of their vested shares (up to $900K), Zuckerberg answered:
“We are not going public for a while. So we want the people to have enough money to life [sic] for the period of time until we go public. In the early days of Facebook I was able to get $900,000 dollar of liquidity. That made a pretty big deal to me. We want engineers or other people in the company don’t have to worry about simple things.”
Facebook Futures.
Recently, Zuckerberg spoke @ the Future of Web Apps Expo in London - although mostly a controlled PR show for web app companies; Sir Mark hinted at a few things, most interestingly the theme of ‘enabling people to share’.
Some interesting tidbits from the event: (thanks to
  • The vision of Facebook Connect is to enable people to do on the rest of the web what they currently do on Facebook.
  • There’s no firm launch date for Connect, but it’s expected to be within the next few months.
  • As everyone already knows, Facebook does not want to encourage third party applications that are only interested in occupying profile space. The recent redesign has been specifically developed to encourage applications that enable sharing between users. Part of this is the prioritisation of feeds over profile boxes.
  • Talk of the payment system was downplayed, and was even referred to as “the rumoured payment system.” (It’s more than a rumour, given the solicitation for developers to sign up for a beta programme last year, but obviously there’s nothing to be announced imminently.)
  • Mark talked about his loose theory of a “Moore’s Law” for content sharing: the amount of sharing that goes on is growing exponentially over time.
  • Asked about Open Auth, Open ID and other standards initiatives, the view expressed was very much along the lines of not having done it yet as opposed to not wanting to follow open standards at all. Mark’s view of Facebook as it stands was that “It’s more closed than we want it to be.” However, he believes Facebook’s implementation of things such as the Platform APIs and FBML are more developed than their open standard equivalents.
  • Asked if he would build Facebook (or any web application) the same today as he did four years ago he said no, especially given advances in cloud computing and the availability of other sites-as-platforms.
  • Despite running a multi-billion dollar company, he still goes into the code base and fixes bugs from time-to-time as a way to keep in touch with how the site is being developed and abstracted. (Still doing the dirty work…what a guy!)
To see more about what M. E. Zuckerberg had to say about Facebook, see his BBC interview here & his FOWA interview coming soon here.
Whether you are a student, e-marketer, or just a normal someone (wink), you know where this is heading - Facebook is growing daily, and your just a small part of that. So go ahead and look @ those pictures from the rager last night…look @ those party invites you have yet to confirm, go write on Steph’s wall about her new dog pictures…go nudge that other someone, go see what the class is saying about the new Physics professor, go watch that video with that kid getting hit in the nuts with the soccer ball, go see how many comments you have that partially naked photo of you that you just ‘had’ to get up on the site as soon as you got back from the party, go add that fun application where you can send growing plants to your friends and let’s go buy fake gift icons for a $1 and send them to everyone too.
I am not making fun…I take part in this revolution daily. I just always like to step out of the ‘branding’ work I do on a daily basis (sometimes it feels much more often) and realize the actuality of the framework in this platform.
It really is amazing…or scary. You choose.
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