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Interview: Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook's Origins and its Future

  • Newsweek, Thursday, July 23, 2009 2:48 PM
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks with Newsweek's Dan Lyons about the origins of what would come to be the world's largest social networking site. Over late night pizza, Zuckerberg says that he and his Harvard friends would talk about "how during our lifetimes the way people negotiated their identity and their privacy would be changed. There would be a lot more information, and a lot more transparency," he said. "That was really interesting to us." However, in no way did he think "we would build a business that would shape that in any way. I was just building something that would let me and the people around me stay in touch. But then it just kind of grew and grew."

Indeed, Facebook is now a global phenomenon with more than 250 million registered users around the globe. But what will it look like in five years? According to Zuckerberg, "Facebook will be less about Facebook.com and more about this underlying system and platform that we're building." That platform would be Facebook Connect, which allows users to stay signed into Facebook when they visit participating third-party sites. This enables them to interact with those sites using their Facebook ID. Zuckerberg notes that Facebook Connect now has more than 15,000 participating sites, "and that's just a start," he says. "Within five years we hope to have hundreds of millions of [more] people using Facebook. But it's more about using the system to make other sites more social."

Zuckerberg also acknowledges that the company's core strategy over the last two years has been growth, not revenue. Facebook has gone from 25 million users in 2007 to 250 million today. "The primary value of the site is having other people on the site," he says. "More users means more revenue. As we grow, we will become increasingly profitable."

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