Zuckerberg: Facebook's "intense" year

Mark Zuckerberg's Tie

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, in a tie? Oh my.

If you know Mark you know he’s a pretty casual dresser. Usually seen in T-shirt, jeans, and sandals.

But not here at the World Economic Forum where we walked around downtown Davos last night for a while before heading into the Time Magazine’s reception. Last year we did a similar walk where I got to know him better.

This year people at the party noted his tie and he explained that he was wearing it to denote that this was Facebook’s “intense” year.

Last year when we walked around Davos they had about 50 million users. Today? More than 150 million with about 450,000 new users joining every day.

This is Facebook’s make or break year. It is the year that will set them up to be one of Silicon Valley’s most respected brands along with HP, Intel, Google or, well, it could be the year that the wheels come off of the train and everything goes wrong.

The tie is his way of telling his team and the world that this is Facebook’s most intense year.

We talked about a few other things too, here’s a selection.

**I gave him heck for kicking off people from Facebook who didn’t deserve the “death penalty,” as I put it. He said that they are always looking at how to protect its system from spammers and bad actors. “We’d rather put up with a few false positives,” he told me. He did like my idea of a less punitive “jail” for first-time offenders, though, so that the team can turn off certain features instead of just killing the account altogether. He also said that his system looks for “outlying” behavior. He said if you behave like an average user you should never trigger the algorithms that will get you kicked off. Of course, that irks me a bit because my usage of social media sites is totally outlier behavior. But, I can see his point. One thing that’s nice about Facebook is that I see very little spam or other nasty behavior.
**Facebook is, he told me, studying “sentiment” behavior. It hasn’t yet used that research in its public service yet, but is looking to figure out if people are having a good day or bad day. He said that already his teams are able to sense when nasty news, like stock prices are headed down, is underway. He also told me that the sentiment engine notices a lot of “going out” kinds of messages on Friday afternoon and then notices a lot of “hungover” messages on Saturday morning. He’s not sure where that research will lead. We talked about how sentiment analysis might lead to a new kind of news display in Facebook. Knowing whether a story is positive or negative would let Facebook pick a good selection of both kinds of news, or maybe even let you choose whether you want to see only “happy” news.
**At the Time Magazine party tons of people came up to him to tell him their Facebook stories. He deals with them graciously and talks to them about features in Facebook they might try. He noted with one such fan that lots of people haven’t played with the privacy settings, which give you control over who can see your photos, for instance. I think that’s really why Facebook is so popular. I know my wife really loves Facebook but hasn’t taken to Twitter or friendfeed. I sense that her ability to control which friends see her stuff is one reason why she’s so enthusiastic about Facebook. The second in command at Time, Michael Elliot said he would be so cool with his kids if they new he was hanging out with Zuckerberg.
**He asked me what I was most excited about. We talked about friendfeed. It’s clear to me that he’s watching friendfeed and learning from it about what works and doesn’t work. We talked about how it let me “sift” through tons of news and noise and pick things out for my friends to read. He’s very interested in that trend and, indeed, took a lot of shots when he added a newsfeed to Facebook. Now, he notes, that is a key feature of Facebook and even the haters have gotten used to it.
**He attended Vladimir Putin’s talk and thought Putin’s talk was interesting. “He is running Russia like the CEO of a big oil company,” Zuckerberg told me. As we talked it was clear that Zuckerberg analyzes how other people run things and is looking for positive things to do with his own company and is looking for what turns him off. He studied Psychology at Harvard and I see that training come out when discussing world events with him. You can also see his understanding of how people work all through Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder Facebook, and Jet Li, famous martial arts star**He, along with Tony Blair, will be running the coat check at tonight’s Women’s Dinner. He was trying to rope Jet Li, famous martial arts star, into doing it too.

Anyway, I like the new intensity, but I did note that he was still wearing jeans and had his top button undone. Casual intensity. Sounds like Facebook is growing up, doesn’t it?

I have other photos from Davos up on my Flickr account
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Comments

  1. Robert,
    Great post. Casual intensity should be their new motto. Casual towards giving users control. Let them run their profiles. It is their network. And intense toward making Facebook into a viable business. They need to juice more than .50/CPM rates.

    Still though, Zuckerberg seems to be very focused, which bodes well for the company.

  2. Robert,
    Great post. Casual intensity should be their new motto. Casual towards giving users control. Let them run their profiles. It is their network. And intense toward making Facebook into a viable business. They need to juice more than .50/CPM rates.

    Still though, Zuckerberg seems to be very focused, which bodes well for the company.

  3. Great post! I really enjoy reading these encounter-type stories. It’s great how down to earth people like Mark are even when they have been rocketed into the fast pace fame world. Found your blog through Twitter and plan tome back more often in the future! Caio

  4. Great post! I really enjoy reading these encounter-type stories. It’s great how down to earth people like Mark are even when they have been rocketed into the fast pace fame world. Found your blog through Twitter and plan tome back more often in the future! Caio

  5. Here is the issue with Facebook and disabling accounts: they don’t even bother to reply to you. even after several attempts. Or, best case scenario, you get routed to the Ads department.

    They need to make this process more transperent, and allowing people to state their case, offer better ways to contact Facebook.

    But, we have to hand it to him, he did an amazing job there.

  6. Here is the issue with Facebook and disabling accounts: they don’t even bother to reply to you. even after several attempts. Or, best case scenario, you get routed to the Ads department.

    They need to make this process more transperent, and allowing people to state their case, offer better ways to contact Facebook.

    But, we have to hand it to him, he did an amazing job there.

  7. Facebook is much more successful at mirroring real world social situations than Twitter or others – being able to tweak the news feed is big example. You can bump up people you are close to and dial back people who are acquaintances, without them really knowing that you’re doing it and having hard feelings about it.

    That’s a better model than Twitter, where acquaintances can demand equality of your attention with your friends. That’s what eventually drove me to turn off Twitter after several years of use. With Twitter, your friendship is either on or off. Black or white. That’s not a reflection of the real world, where you spend some time with some friends and some time with others, and you can be acquainted with people you enjoy spending time with occasionally – but they’re different enough than you that you don’t want to interact every day.

    Another real-world social situation I’d like to see Facebook model is a “cloak of invisibility” scenario – being able to share items with some friends and not others. That might require them to allow “tiers” of friends – Flickr does this a bit with contacts – allowing you to tag some people as family, some as friends, some as general contacts.

  8. Facebook is much more successful at mirroring real world social situations than Twitter or others – being able to tweak the news feed is big example. You can bump up people you are close to and dial back people who are acquaintances, without them really knowing that you’re doing it and having hard feelings about it.

    That’s a better model than Twitter, where acquaintances can demand equality of your attention with your friends. That’s what eventually drove me to turn off Twitter after several years of use. With Twitter, your friendship is either on or off. Black or white. That’s not a reflection of the real world, where you spend some time with some friends and some time with others, and you can be acquainted with people you enjoy spending time with occasionally – but they’re different enough than you that you don’t want to interact every day.

    Another real-world social situation I’d like to see Facebook model is a “cloak of invisibility” scenario – being able to share items with some friends and not others. That might require them to allow “tiers” of friends – Flickr does this a bit with contacts – allowing you to tag some people as family, some as friends, some as general contacts.

  9. Right through this piece I kept getting a sense of Bill Gates. I don’t know if you feel that when you’re with him. I’m not sure why, but the sense or feeling I get reading him is the same as when I read interviews with Bill Gates, whether they be 1980s, ’90s, or 2000s.

    Which raises the interesting question, if he is the Bill Gates of this generation, who is the Steve Jobs?

  10. Right through this piece I kept getting a sense of Bill Gates. I don’t know if you feel that when you’re with him. I’m not sure why, but the sense or feeling I get reading him is the same as when I read interviews with Bill Gates, whether they be 1980s, ’90s, or 2000s.

    Which raises the interesting question, if he is the Bill Gates of this generation, who is the Steve Jobs?

  11. Robert, Great piece. Mark seems pretty low key for someone who has reached his level of success. Interestingly, when I tie together my Twitter and Facebook accounts for updates, I get a much bigger response from Facebook than I do Twitter for the same exact posting. I think if they are able to implement this “sentiment” applications, they would be turning Facebook at least partially into Web. 3.0.

    Alan W. Silberberg
    CEO, You2Gov
    @you2gov

  12. Robert, Great piece. Mark seems pretty low key for someone who has reached his level of success. Interestingly, when I tie together my Twitter and Facebook accounts for updates, I get a much bigger response from Facebook than I do Twitter for the same exact posting. I think if they are able to implement this “sentiment” applications, they would be turning Facebook at least partially into Web. 3.0.

    Alan W. Silberberg
    CEO, You2Gov
    @you2gov

  13. A great post Robert. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Glad you “gave him heck for kicking off people from Facebook who didn’t deserve the “death penalty”. I hope he takes notice.

  14. A great post Robert. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Glad you “gave him heck for kicking off people from Facebook who didn’t deserve the “death penalty”. I hope he takes notice.

  15. During the inauguration I did a little social experiement that combined the Facebook statuses of my friends and watching the “feelings cloud” on http://wefeelfine.org/. It would be interesting to see what an intersection of these two would look like.

  16. During the inauguration I did a little social experiement that combined the Facebook statuses of my friends and watching the “feelings cloud” on http://wefeelfine.org/. It would be interesting to see what an intersection of these two would look like.

  17. Nice blog post. Reminds me of the earlier msft-scoble blog posts that I miss.

    I am also happy that this insight did not point me to a video to watch.

    I know video is your thing, but I sure do like to read and scan text. Maybe for us readers, you can put more textual summaries of your videos. I am one of those people who never clicks the videos at cnn or anywhere, because I’d rather read about it, and then if I want to watch it, I will. watching happens rarely.

    Another article I saw today on PBS that is right up your alley: http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2009/01/warning-dependence-on-facebook-twitter-could-be-hazardous-to-your-business029.html

  18. Nice blog post. Reminds me of the earlier msft-scoble blog posts that I miss.

    I am also happy that this insight did not point me to a video to watch.

    I know video is your thing, but I sure do like to read and scan text. Maybe for us readers, you can put more textual summaries of your videos. I am one of those people who never clicks the videos at cnn or anywhere, because I’d rather read about it, and then if I want to watch it, I will. watching happens rarely.

    Another article I saw today on PBS that is right up your alley: http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2009/01/warning-dependence-on-facebook-twitter-could-be-hazardous-to-your-business029.html

  19. Maybe Mark’s growing up and has had enough of the casual look.

    It’s hard to tell where Facebook is going to go next, let’s face it Myspace was the thing of 2007, Facebook was 2008 version and whats in store for 2009….. Twitter???

    Interesting article though.

  20. Maybe Mark’s growing up and has had enough of the casual look.

    It’s hard to tell where Facebook is going to go next, let’s face it Myspace was the thing of 2007, Facebook was 2008 version and whats in store for 2009….. Twitter???

    Interesting article though.

  21. Robert – can you ask him, or do you know why they don’t give you any way to track the number of video views on Facebook? I love the new HD functionality, but my CMO continually asks me why we post videos there is we can’t measure their reach? I’d pay extra for that feature!

  22. Robert – can you ask him, or do you know why they don’t give you any way to track the number of video views on Facebook? I love the new HD functionality, but my CMO continually asks me why we post videos there is we can’t measure their reach? I’d pay extra for that feature!

  23. He’s running Russia like the CEO of a Mafia Conglomeration, one the verge of provoking a new Cold War. “Sovereign democracy” is a Russian euphemism for “dictatorship”. Autocratic Russian brutishness, as usual, just not as much allegiance paid to Marxist dogma, considering the economic wreck it produced for most of the 20th Century.

    Zuckerberg’s naive pop-psychology, has no place in the geopolitical world, where misinformation and obfuscation are the norm.

  24. He’s running Russia like the CEO of a Mafia Conglomeration, one the verge of provoking a new Cold War. “Sovereign democracy” is a Russian euphemism for “dictatorship”. Autocratic Russian brutishness, as usual, just not as much allegiance paid to Marxist dogma, considering the economic wreck it produced for most of the 20th Century.

    Zuckerberg’s naive pop-psychology, has no place in the geopolitical world, where misinformation and obfuscation are the norm.

  25. Facebook is going to fail as it is run like a communist dictatorship. They only permit “normal” behaviour, that is ridiculous. The only people worth talking too are not normal.

  26. Facebook is going to fail as it is run like a communist dictatorship. They only permit “normal” behaviour, that is ridiculous. The only people worth talking too are not normal.

  27. Scoble, you smarmy fathole – great interview. Loved hearing about krazy zucks wearing a tie (gasp!). I was enthralled by your every sycophantic observation. He though Putin was interesting! Facebook is intense! Top button…. wait… wait for it…. UNDONE!

    Friendfeed, Friendfeed, Friendfeed!!!

    Unbridled genius. Keep up the slobbering tone – don’t change, baby. DONT CHANGE!

  28. Scoble, you smarmy fathole – great interview. Loved hearing about krazy zucks wearing a tie (gasp!). I was enthralled by your every sycophantic observation. He though Putin was interesting! Facebook is intense! Top button…. wait… wait for it…. UNDONE!

    Friendfeed, Friendfeed, Friendfeed!!!

    Unbridled genius. Keep up the slobbering tone – don’t change, baby. DONT CHANGE!

  29. Oh Boy! WEF! I place a lot of trust in these putzes! Considering they are the ones that orchestrated the current world economic crisis I place zero value in learning, aligning or trusting anything these weazels have to say.

    To quote Groucho Marx: “… I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member”. Anyone who hangs around the WEF is suspect of perpetuating the economic climate. Zucherberg included.

  30. Oh Boy! WEF! I place a lot of trust in these putzes! Considering they are the ones that orchestrated the current world economic crisis I place zero value in learning, aligning or trusting anything these weazels have to say.

    To quote Groucho Marx: “… I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member”. Anyone who hangs around the WEF is suspect of perpetuating the economic climate. Zucherberg included.

  31. The only thing that will get us outta the trench is a broad Reagan 1982 Economic Policy, but we are getting the New New Bailout-Forever Deal. Guess we will need World War III to get the economy moving again.

  32. The only thing that will get us outta the trench is a broad Reagan 1982 Economic Policy, but we are getting the New New Bailout-Forever Deal. Guess we will need World War III to get the economy moving again.

  33. The only thing that will get us outta the trench is a broad Reagan 1982 Economic Policy, but we are getting the New New Bailout-Forever Deal. Guess we will need World War III to get the economy moving again. I say that half jokingly, but only half.

  34. The only thing that will get us outta the trench is a broad Reagan 1982 Economic Policy, but we are getting the New New Bailout-Forever Deal. Guess we will need World War III to get the economy moving again. I say that half jokingly, but only half.

  35. I’m glad you’re in Davos and this is a pretty good interview. But *somebody* has to ask Mark Zuckerberg the questions Lacy asked and couldn’t get answers to, remember? Like, does he *really* think he’s worth that billion?

    Also, it’s pretty creepy that he thinks there’s something positive about Putin and his running Russia like an oil company. Ugh. Why does neo-fascism always so impress the technocommies? In fact, running Russia like an oil company is not going to work so hot this year as the price of oil is down and his popularity was only tied to the higher price of gasoline.

    Let’s hope Zuckerberg doesn’t great Putin ideas into Facebook like presiding over the closure of free media and the murder of journalists.

  36. I’m glad you’re in Davos and this is a pretty good interview. But *somebody* has to ask Mark Zuckerberg the questions Lacy asked and couldn’t get answers to, remember? Like, does he *really* think he’s worth that billion?

    Also, it’s pretty creepy that he thinks there’s something positive about Putin and his running Russia like an oil company. Ugh. Why does neo-fascism always so impress the technocommies? In fact, running Russia like an oil company is not going to work so hot this year as the price of oil is down and his popularity was only tied to the higher price of gasoline.

    Let’s hope Zuckerberg doesn’t great Putin ideas into Facebook like presiding over the closure of free media and the murder of journalists.

  37. Okay so Mark has done a great job building Facebook up. However, I’m sorry it seems to me that you were only allowed to talk because you went easy on him. There are major issues with Facebook (major security hole that wasn’t plugged for over six months, killing accounts for no good reason, ignoring any contact from users who have issues and generally behaving like the playground bully), which he and his team need to be seriously taken to task over. So if Mark is becoming the Bill Gates of this generation then given the lessons learned about the appallingly dictatorial way that MS treat their customers why are people (that is IT journalists) being so nice and glossing over flaws?

  38. Okay so Mark has done a great job building Facebook up. However, I’m sorry it seems to me that you were only allowed to talk because you went easy on him. There are major issues with Facebook (major security hole that wasn’t plugged for over six months, killing accounts for no good reason, ignoring any contact from users who have issues and generally behaving like the playground bully), which he and his team need to be seriously taken to task over. So if Mark is becoming the Bill Gates of this generation then given the lessons learned about the appallingly dictatorial way that MS treat their customers why are people (that is IT journalists) being so nice and glossing over flaws?

  39. [...] Facebook is trying to study sentiment (could that be used as an investment tool)? Fred Wilson highlighted the bloat that exists at many Web 2 companies, which holds them back from profitability. Chris Anderson, who promotes the concept of free with his new book, notes that free is pushing against its limits, and entrepreneurs are going to have to start charging during a period of limited VC backing: What about the oldest trick in the book: actually charging people for your goods and services? This is where the real innovation will flourish in a down economy. It’s now time for entrepreneurs to innovate, not just with new products, but new business models. [...]

  40. Excellent coverage of Davos…

    Great to know about his casual intensity, but Scoble where is your fashion report?
    We want to know what you chose to wear and how it is indicative of the coming year :)

    Thanks for a great post.

  41. Excellent coverage of Davos…

    Great to know about his casual intensity, but Scoble where is your fashion report?
    We want to know what you chose to wear and how it is indicative of the coming year :)

    Thanks for a great post.

  42. There is no “average” user on a powerlaw curve.

    If Facebook doesn’t understand that memes can have friends, someone else will overtake them eventually. It’s not just about who you’ve had to your house for dinner. When they limit people’s ability to connect, they crash the network economy within their system.

  43. There is no “average” user on a powerlaw curve.

    If Facebook doesn’t understand that memes can have friends, someone else will overtake them eventually. It’s not just about who you’ve had to your house for dinner. When they limit people’s ability to connect, they crash the network economy within their system.

  44. [...] had noticeably dressed up for Davos, telling blogger Robert Scoble it was to denote that this was Facebook’s ‘intense’ year. The Facebook founder bio page has had a recent addition. And as for Engagement Ads? Well, we’ll [...]

  45. [...] Facebook is trying to study sentiment (could that be used as an investment tool)? Fred Wilson highlighted the bloat that exists at many Web 2 companies, which holds them back from profitability. Chris Anderson, who promotes the concept of free with his new book, notes that free is pushing against its limits, and entrepreneurs are going to have to start charging during a period of limited VC backing: What about the oldest trick in the book: actually charging people for your goods and services? This is where the real innovation will flourish in a down economy. It’s now time for entrepreneurs to innovate, not just with new products, but new business models. [...]

  46. Great post Scoble. Love how its just very conversational.

    Really interested in the ‘sentiment behavior engine’.

    I think there’s a huge opportunity in using this data for tailoring news, understanding user behavior and being able to extrapolate that data into personalized marketing. For instance, maybe you should see ads on a Saturday morning for vitamins or medication, but not ads for alcohol (can beer companies even adverstise on Facebook????) if your profile status is ‘hungover’.

    @ryancmiller

  47. Great post Scoble. Love how its just very conversational.

    Really interested in the ‘sentiment behavior engine’.

    I think there’s a huge opportunity in using this data for tailoring news, understanding user behavior and being able to extrapolate that data into personalized marketing. For instance, maybe you should see ads on a Saturday morning for vitamins or medication, but not ads for alcohol (can beer companies even adverstise on Facebook????) if your profile status is ‘hungover’.

    @ryancmiller

  48. [...] Facebook, as we’ve written in the past here, is trying to become the whole Internet. They’re spreading their tentacles far and wide in an attempt to become embedded into the very fabric of the Internet. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but that’s how I think they’re positioning themselves. Mark Zuckerberg talks about Facebook as a utility that promotes sharing, but really, they’re building an alternate web that knows everything about you. In fact, they might even know what you’re feeling. [...]

  49. “…He also told me that the sentiment engine notices a lot of “going out” kinds of messages on Friday afternoon and then notices a lot of “hungover” messages on Saturday morning. He’s not sure where that research will lead…”

    Really? Get out of here! People are going out on Friday nights, and they are hungover on Saturday mornings? Wow.

    Did you really need Mark Zuckerberg to tell you that? Because I could have told you that.

  50. “…He also told me that the sentiment engine notices a lot of “going out” kinds of messages on Friday afternoon and then notices a lot of “hungover” messages on Saturday morning. He’s not sure where that research will lead…”

    Really? Get out of here! People are going out on Friday nights, and they are hungover on Saturday mornings? Wow.

    Did you really need Mark Zuckerberg to tell you that? Because I could have told you that.

  51. Wow, it seems like some fo the silicon valley crowd are starting to realize that there is life outside of the “bubble”. I think that this is a really good thing. Social media sites have become sometimes less social then they used to be. Facebook actions just illustrate how not to act in order to keep people happy. Being okay with a “few false positives” as the CEO put it would make me upset if I was one of them. Remember that this is a social utility and as such people can go elsewhere. There is no monopoly you can have on a persons relatioship with others.

  52. Wow, it seems like some fo the silicon valley crowd are starting to realize that there is life outside of the “bubble”. I think that this is a really good thing. Social media sites have become sometimes less social then they used to be. Facebook actions just illustrate how not to act in order to keep people happy. Being okay with a “few false positives” as the CEO put it would make me upset if I was one of them. Remember that this is a social utility and as such people can go elsewhere. There is no monopoly you can have on a persons relatioship with others.

  53. Wow! A tie, and a north face jacket. A little on the ‘professional’ side none the less. Let’s hope that Zuckerberg understands that it is necessary for Facebook to have a ‘serious’ year. I think they were slacking in 08.

  54. Wow! A tie, and a north face jacket. A little on the ‘professional’ side none the less. Let’s hope that Zuckerberg understands that it is necessary for Facebook to have a ‘serious’ year. I think they were slacking in 08.

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