Sunday, March 09, 2008

sxsw: 3.9.08 Keynote with Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg

sxsw: 3.9.08 Keynote with Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg

Bottom line words: social network, privacy and trust, control, application platform development,

Does Mark Zuckerberg really need an introduction? Facebook’s founder and CEO, Zuckerberg is hosted today at sxsw by Sarah Lacy, author [shameless plug for book coming out on Zuckerberg], BusinessWeek columist and co-host of Yahoo Finance’s "TeckTicker." Zuckerberg is the 23-year-old who has emerged as one of the brightest young minds in the social media industry. With his direction, Facebook has grown from a college-networking tool to a global phenomenon. The site is now used by people of all ages with over 50 percent of users returning daily. Facebook continues to launch new innovations and expand functionality with Facebook Platform, and the number of users on the site is now more than 60 million at last count.

This session feels like a rock concert – music playing loudly awaiting the grand wizard of innovation and wise moves. We all want to be as smart as Zuckerberg, and of course, as rich as this new billionaire. Now the countdown, people cheering – there he is!

Why is the site so successful and the role it is playing – asks Lacy. Zuckerberg says at Facebook he is helping people communicate more efficiently. He has jumped into the use in Columbia and the way people are using Facebook to revolt against the government. Lacy asks why Facebook instead of many other ways the Internet could be used to bring revolutionaries together.

He is keeping it simple in some ways, the word efficient is very big. He also wants people to communicate in a more trusting way. Now he has mentioned Lebanon – and talking about a lack of empathy and understanding is related to terrorism, and growing up in poverty. Now, with Facebook there is a greater way to connect all people to better understand each other. Now Facebook is letting people stay connected with friends with the outside world and better understand outside of our own culture.

He is young!! He is kind of learning on the job about the grown-up world and how to talk to 1,000 people who consider him a genius buy do not get me wrong, he is very, very smart. Okay, brilliant now that I am looking at this paragraph after listening to him for 45 minutes.

He talks about people having a voice without having a large organization doing this for them, and to go from the bottom up to reach out in the world to others via social media infrastructure. This is empowering people to do more.

Facebook has now launched in Spanish and German, and tonight launches in French. Why is Facebook navigating this so well, asks Lacy.

Z says this is fundamental, everyone needs relationships – it is very universal.

Now Lacy asks about how will Facebook make money. Z says valuation of Facebook is about a system that builds connection. Building a business is the way one must go about this – so a relationship with Microsoft is about sharing information. People expressing identify… monetization is about helping people share the information they want so it will overlap with income. Lacy asks about immediate revenue, but what about sustaining income for this in a few years? Z says the relationship with M is robust.

Facebook and advertising is about people endorsing products. We want to build a system that allows people who share their interests and this will endorse certain things.

Beacon is part of the platform group at Facebook, but the ecosystem will allow others to build platforms at Facebook and then outside on the web. Okay, this is where I am trying to keep up on this and the relationship with the ad system. Time for some homework on this. Z says this will help build social services. So the greater Facebook vision does it conflict with privacy? Z says that each person should control the information they share – but people have very granular control and personal information can be controlled. Facebook will achieve its goals by keeping this possible.

Lacy asks what tweaks will come to Facebook – as far as incentives. Z believes people are fundamentally good, thus giving a lot of services but once people get spammy they get controlled. The system is about trust – if you are sending a request to someone and they accept. So aligning the system will allow those who publish the most get most privileges. Lacy asks if Facebook is now creating too many rules, but he says no.

Asked about music vertical – he says he has not gone after this in the past, but once Facebook opened the platform for I like and other music venues. Lacy pursues this more, but he does not want to give specifics so he is dancing around this question.

When asked about being the youngest billionaire, he says his company is not focused on wealth – they just want flexibility in the ecosystem. He wants his company to change things and he is not working on ROI to make tons of money.