An Analyst’s Look Back at Facebook

Looking back at my first briefing with Mark Zuckerberg in 2006 and my key takeaway from Facebook’s success.

On his Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg shares with the world: today is his company’s 10th anniversary. You’ve probably also seen your friends sharing A Look Back videos that pull from your personal site data.

Facebook Look Back

As a former industry analyst covering marketing and social media, I have one Facebook moment in particular that isn’t part of my video. In 2006, Facebook was two years old but I was more than a decade beyond my undergraduate studies. I had to use my alumni email address to create an account, so my user ID begins with a “6.”

In the summer of 2006, my colleague Charlene Li invited me to a briefing with Mark Zuckerberg and Melanie Deitch. Here’s a high-level summary of my notes from that 30-minute call:

  • Additional round of funding [$25 million]
  • Launched mobile in April: pull info from site / push info to site / receive info pushed from site
  • Enhanced flyer (advertising) capabilities
  • Prioritized functionality based on Facebook as “communications utility” and “social directory”

At the time, Facebook had nowhere near the attention of MySpace. Regional competitors posed formidable barriers to entry, including Bebo (UK), Orkut (Brazil), and Cyworld (Korea). Brands were most interested in blogs, podcasts, and widgets when considering corporate social media.

Today, Facebook is a public company with market capitalization of almost $160 billion. Over 550 million users access Facebook via mobile every day and the company pulled in $2.59 billion in revenue last quarter. Over the past eight years, the company has redefined what it means to be a “communications utility” and “social directory.”

One quote from Zuckerberg’s reflective post stands out for me:

“People often ask if I always knew that Facebook would become what it is today. No way.”

Too often and too frequently I think people are focused on the game’s final score instead of the plays that add up to a win. Alternately, people think success can be carbon copied into other situations. “We will be the Facebook of this!” “We will be the McKinsey of that!” If there’s a lesson to be learned from Facebook’s last ten years, for me it’s this: focus obsessively on making a great core product and success will follow.

 


 

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