Is Facebook the biggest modern business phenomena? Look at the social network’s growth:
- 2006 – 9 million users
- 2007- 40 million users
- 2010 – 400 million users
And that 2010 number is the last one announced. David Kirkpatrick, author of ‘The Facebook Effect’ says it’s probably 500 million by now, and he’s predicting 1 billion users by the end of 2011.
Can’t you hear Dr. Evil? One Billion Users…..
There’s been a lot of coverage lately on the most recent outcry over privacy, with charges that Facebook has evil control over your personal data. But the cold hard fact is that with those numbers, it’s really a tiny percentage of Facebook users that are at all concerned. Inside Facebook, they look back at the huge brouhaha when the Newsfeed came out, and it’s now the most popular feature.
Speaking at a recent Churchill Club breakfast in Silicon Valley, Kirkpatrick spent a fair amount of time talking about (and often defending) Facebook’s continuing strategy of building a platform based on genuine identity, and all the marketable information that comes with that mission. Kirkpatrick was interviewed by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, who had Zuckerberg hiding behind his hoodie at the recent D conference.
It was an excellent interview, especially since Kirkpatrick often seemed in awe of Zuckerberg, and Swisher isn’t awed by anyone. Kirkpatrick, of course, is the former longtime Fortune writer and creator of the Brainstorm conference, now behind the upcoming new Techonomy Conference. He attributes his book’s detailed story on the rise of Facebook to the major access he had to the company’s young founder.
Despite the monumental growth in Facebook users, Kirkpatrick says Facebook desperately wants to avoid “big company syndrome”, keep its corporate culture and probably delay any IPO. The anti-IPO sentiment was echoed in the news today of Elevation Partners’ $120 million investment.
Kirkpatrick says inside Facebook, it’s ALL about Zuckerberg , his substantial vision and his religious belief in transparency. For this 26 year old with a half-billion user base, PR is obviously not on the top of his priority list and he seems to have a pretty tin ear to opinions. Kirkpatrick believes the factors that have made Facebook so successful are authenticity, tranparency, simplicity and overall technology. Think about it. It was those edu addresses in the early days that provided the authenticity while MySpace was based on anonymity, personas and visages.
And what’s in the future for Facebook? In terms of technology, Kirkpatrick believes it’s all about mobile, geolocation and live video. He says Zuckerberg, like Steve Jobs, has unlimited ambitions and sees the world as one giant market. Facebook is already the world’s address book, it could it be the easier Internet, the OS for Internet Life. Threats? Government regulation and what’s brewing in the next dorm room…