There are two types of people interested in quizzing Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg: those who envy his success and others who are avid users of his social media website (or perhaps better described as a sort of empire). Fortunately for both groups, Zuckerberg opened himself up to questions at the first Townhall Q&A session held at the Facebook HQ this week.
A few questions and responses stand out:
Why did you force us to install Facebook Messenger?
Zuckerberg: “The first thing I want to do is acknowledge that asking everyone in our community to install a new app is a big ask. We really believe that this is a better experience and the messaging is really important. Each app can do one thing well.”
What I heard: We want to do serious development in the messaging arena –and to keep our options open in the future, it is being modularized such that it can be sold or implemented without dependence on the core Facebook app. If Facebook is getting set to launch a more comprehensive mobile platform (perhaps even as an independent operating system), having a full-featured and securing messaging service is very important.
How accurate is the movie Social Network?
Zuckerberg: “I kinda blocked that one out. It was a very interesting experience that was supposedly about my life. The reality is that, writing a code and building a product is not that exciting.” He also went on to describe that the filmmakers “just kind of made up a bunch of stuff” that he thought was hurtful.
What I heard: With no specifics being called out, Zuckerberg wanted us to believe that anything negative in the movie was a part of the ‘made up stuff’.
Is Facebook intending to take over the mobile industry?
Zuckerberg: His answer was as vague as the question, noting primarily that a large number of people live in areas without Internet access (or no way to get themselves online). He did express that it was his view that Facebook has a social responsibility to spread the Internet (with activities like working with large companies in the industry that can beam Facebook access to phones).
What I heard: It felt very much like Zuckerberg was saying that even if you don’t have Internet access, you can still have Facebook. He could have said they were ‘beaming educational materials,’ or something slightly more philanthropic… indicating that at least in small part, Facebook does intend to dominate the mobile industry (and more).
How do you keep the passion running for Facebook?
Zuckerberg: “It starts with doing something that you think is actually important.”
What I heard: I am not sure ‘important’ is the word I would use. Perhaps something more along the lines of: innovative, exciting, or entertaining. I suppose it is important that social media giants believe in their cause, but in the grand scheme of things… it’s mostly just window dressing of sorts.
Is Facebook becoming boring?
Zuckerberg: “My goal was never to make Facebook cool.” Basically, he feels that it is their job to be present and reliable.
What I heard: Facebook isn’t in the content business, they only deliver the things we provide (by way of text, photos and video)… and that makes sense.
The sessions ended with a lot of questions that carried less weight, wanting to know what Zuckerberg’s passion is or how Facebook intends to get involved in the fight against Ebola… but this is the point where my interest kind of trailed off (unless you count that we learned he wears the same shirt everyday because he thinks it is a waste of his precious time to make frivolous decisions of this type –I am paraphrasing, but barely).