Is Facebook Growing Up?

by Jay Deragon on 03/06/2008

Is Facebook Growing Up?The recent hires by Facebook, see story below, show that Zuckerberg is making some moves to take Facebook to the next level.

But will it be the right level or a small step forward based on advertising models? It appears as though Facebook is relying on advertising models as the primary way to monetize Facebook as do all the “social networking sites”.

In a conversation with, the social networking site’s CEO holds forth on recent hires and going public

“As Facebook tries to sustain its supercharged growth, it’s bringing in adult supervision”.

“The social networking site hired Sheryl Sandberg, who ran Google’s (GOOG) AdWords and AdSense keyword advertising business, as chief operating officer on Mar. 4, reporting to 23-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Last year, Facebook grabbed former YouTube chief financial officer Gideon Yu from Google to fill the same position. The company also brought in Chamath Palihapitiya, formerly of AOL (TWX) and the Mayfield Fund, as vice-president for marketing.”

“Sandberg, 38, arrives at Facebook at a pivotal time. Membership has ballooned to 67 million users in just four years. But the company faces challenges expanding overseas, reassuring users and government officials about member privacy, and creating an advertising system that cashes in on Facebook’s popularity without turning off users.”

“Zuckerberg, in a conversation with technology writer Aaron Ricadela, discussed Sandberg’s role, Facebook’s expansion plans, and his perspective on a possible initial public offering of stock.” See full story here.

While most operators focus on short term progress there are those focused on creating whole new market opportunities beyond advertising.

When Will Progress Become Revolutionary?

Our previous post, “Will Economics Theory Shift?”,  we asked Doc Searls for his opinion on the subject matter. Doc’s response was “My thoughts in general (not about your post, but launched by it) …” Everything we call a “social network” — facebook, myspace, twitter — is an interesting hack, but also a prototype. I’d even call Google’s search engine a prototype.

“What’s happening in business is stuff that in some ways Peter Drucker saw coming decades ago. Companies will evolve into what they should have been in the first place: ways of organizing talent, getting work done that can’t be done any other way, and routing paychecks. They will come to value “knowledge workers” more than anything else. What’s new is that many of those are also customers and most of those no longer work for the company.”

“What David Weinberger called “Fort Business” in his “Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy” chapter in Cluetrain will fail because it’s a thing apart. Isolated. This was apparent already when we wrote Cluetrain, but now it’s an undeniable fact of life.”

“The most important development in the last fifteen years is not what any one company does on the Web, but what uncounted hackers have done by producing hundreds of thousands of perfectly useful code bases that are all NEA: Nobody owns them, Everybody can use them, and Anybody can improve them.”

“The Web and the Net are products of nature — human nature. That nature is profoundly practical as well as creative. All those code bases were created for practical purposes. Some hacker scratched an itch, and others helped out.”

“The result is a fecundity that strips the gears of every large software company with a controlling interest in its own code. (This, by the way, will be a problem for SAP and Oracle.) And of every large company IT department that thinks all Solutions come from vendors, and that they can control what employees do with their computers. Employees are horses that have left the barn. They are romping through Nature and feeding off a land rich in goods produced by each other.”

“The barn-owners have a hard job: maintaining the attractions of their barns in a world where it’s too easy for every horse to make their own barn, or to live inside none at all.”

“The problem is, we still need companies to do what only companies can do. And, in the U.S., at least, to deliver benefits not otherwise available. But we have to face the fact that most of the big ones will suck at IT services until the insides can catch up with the outsides. This will take awhile.”

“On the customer side, once individuals become equipped with tools of independence and engagement, nature’s course will become even more strange — not just for big companies, but for economists who are accustomed to regarding markets as environments where all that matters is what vendors do, and that the only thing they do that matters is compete for “consumers”, who value price above all.”

“But even the economists will come to realize that, eventually, relationship matters most. This will take time.”

So we have Facebook growing up and Doc Searls focusing on issues that will help the entire web grow up.  Where should we focus our attention and energy, on Facebooks moves or in helping the entire web grow up?  We support Facebook today when we use it but how can we support revolutionary change?

What say you?

{ 1 comment }

GL March 6, 2008 at 7:33 am

It’s hard to take seriously anyone that thinks economists don’t know the value of relationship building and that everyone still follows the idea that price is the only determining factor for consumers. This may have been hyperbole, but I suppose that is to be expected when the topic turns to the future of tech and especially social network sites.

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