One billion users? That's cool. You know what's cooler? Five billion.
So, Facebook has more users than the country of India has residents. As a company, it's looking likely to soon be the youngest business in history to be worth $150 billion.
These and plenty more stats are circulating on the 10-year anniversary of the social network's birth. But for businesses that use Facebook, there's a lot more to know about the really big, longer-term plans for the company. I got an inside look at the company's plans for expanding further in New York City, and the city's engineering head also divulged three keys to the long-game for Facebook as a whole. Here goes.
1. Apps Galore
That "multi-app strategy" you've heard of? Yes, it's true. As smartphones become increasingly embedded in daily lives, new communications patterns are emerging. And they are fractured. People share by tagging themselves in photos. They share with short message blasts through apps. They share private messages. According to Serkan Piantino, there's "a whole universe" of sharing behaviors that Facebook understands--and wants to master. But gone are the days when the social network wanted all sharing to be done in one place. Look no further than the acquisition of Instagram, and this week's launch of Paper that Facebook is investing heavily on its own universe of apps.
2. Make the Graph "Really, Really" Useful to Lots of People
During an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted last year's launch of in-Facebook search, known as Graph Search, wasn't smooth. He said it would be "generous" to suggest that Graph Search worked even half the time. It's now a major project within Facebook to redesign Graph Search for mobile, according to the company's engineering vice president, Mike Vernal. Piantino says that while Graph Search already is quite useful in finding people who fit certain criteria (say, 2004 Carnegie Mellon grads), the next step is "using the graph that we've created to create this thing that's really, really useful to people." That could mean finding the nearby restaurant your friends like best when you're traveling. Only, the amount of data it'll take to actually make recommendations so tailored to an individual is a little daunting. Vernal tells BusinessWeek that harvesting the data required to truly make Graph Search deeply useful is "a multiyear journey."
3. Reach Everyone on Earth
Sound audacious for a company with 1.23 billion users to want to reach five billion more--almost the entire population of the planet? "This is a very real goal for the company," Piantino says. "It's one of the impacts we want to have on the world." And this appears to be a goal Zuckerberg is willing to strive to reach regardless of its money-making potential for the company. In an online paper, Zuckerberg wrote: "The unfair economic reality is that those already on Facebook have way more money than the rest of the world combined, so it may not actually be proﬁtable for us to serve the next few billion people for a very long time, if ever. But we believe everyone deserves to be connected."