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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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How Facebook got it right

This is my investment/personal finance column for this week:

THE EXTENT to which Facebook is changing the world’s social and business landscape is well-explained in David Kirkpatrick’s new “The Facebook Effect.”

Unlike the version of Facebook’s history that is presented in “The Social Network,” Kirkpatrick’s book strives to present the real facts rather than a story that will entertain audiences. Kirkpatrick, a longtime technology writer for Fortune magazine, had ample access to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and most of the key players in the social networking company’s present and past. The same isn’t true of the people behind “The Social Network” (which I haven’t seen but is supposedly a very entertaining movie).

Kirkpatrick traces Facebook’s evolution from its creation in a Harvard University dorm room to its status six years later as an international behemoth worth tens of billions of dollars with more than 500 million users.

In addition to giving people an easy way to stay in contact with their friends and family, Facebook’s success is transforming media, marketing, politics, enter-tainment, activism, event planning, shopping and much more. It has created its own ecosystem within the Internet, and the nascent company has ambitious plans for the future.

Therefore, anyone within the aforementioned fields would be well-advised to read Kirkpatrick’s book.

Unlike many other Web phenomena that quickly come and go, Facebook seems poised to thrive over the long term. As Kirkpatrick mentions, the more people who go on Facebook, the more valuable it becomes both to marketers and to individuals. Most people don’t want to keep numerous social profiles on the Web, so as Facebook use becomes more widespread, its staying power is enhanced.

As with most great enterprises, Facebook’s success is in part due to lucky timing. It wasn’t the first social network, but it was launched at a time when broadband Internet access had become widespread enough to support the service. The fact that it was started at Harvard gave it a cachet that made other colleges and, later, non-students want to get on.

Despite that good fortune, Kirkpatrick’s book makes it clear that Zuckerberg and company made a lot of smart moves that got Facebook to where it is today. Those lessons should be studied by budding entrepreneurs and businesses. Among them:

  • Think about the long term. Zuckerberg is said to be extremely focused on the long haul. That has allowed him to think about the big picture rather than try to lock in short-term gains that aren’t lasting.
  • Focus first on building a great product, then worry about revenue. Zuckerberg has always made Facebook’s user experience its top priority. Only after people came en masse did the company worry about building a business model.
  • Constantly watch your competitors. Facebook has stayed closely up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry and has designed many features that imitate its competition, which especially of late is Twitter.
  • Don’t be satisfied with the product you’ve got. Constantly improve it, even if that means some short-term protests from users. But also listen to your customers and admit your mistakes if necessary.
  • Keep control of the company vision. Zuckerberg has had countless offers over the years from companies seeking to buy Facebook. Impressively, he has turned them all down in order to keep control over the product. Now his personal stake in Facebook is worth billions, and it’s only growing in value.
  • Keep the product simple and easy to use, but build world-class technology beneath the surface. Google and Apple also have profited from these lessons.
  • Embrace the wisdom of the crowd. Many of Facebook’s greatest successes–including its language translation service and third-party applications–have been the result of innovations by other technology companies and users whom Facebook has empowered.

It’s a fascinating story, one that continues to unfold and reshape the world in many ways.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/businessbrowser/2010/10/24/how-facebook-got-it-right/

  • newbedave

    It all started when I was logged in to the Harvard website, where I was listening in to the conversations of the Harvard students. One of these students was Mark Zuckerberg who was talking about Face Smash and he had just broken up with his girlfriend at the time, so I struck up a conversation with this Mark Zuckerberg. He was talking about creating a dating site. I thought this was a bit odd – a pie in the sky idea since he had just broken up with his girlfriend and he was slagging her off – calling her a bitch and a whore.
    dave talked to Mark about the idea, and suggested he call it Face Mash. He was intrigued with my suggestion and thought it was a good idea. Mark wanted to call it Face Smash, because he wanted to smash his ex in the face. I convinced him that Face Mash was a good idea and he agreed, but one week later he changed his mind and wanted to call it Face Smash. When I queried him about this he replied ‘f…. off you c…- I’m calling it Face Smash’. Two weeks after this conversation he came up with the name Mashable and when I asked him why he chose the word Mashable instead of Face Mash he said ‘f,…off you bastard, Face mash is not your idea’. So I re-posted the conversations we had two weeks earlier and he had to apologise and said he was going with Mashable. I took this as a sign that he wanted to throw me off the scent and take the site for himself. dave found the character of Mark Zuckerberg to be deceptive and dishonest and ended conversing with Mark Zuckerberg because of his dishonesty and lack of integrity

    After this dave started conversing with Dustin and Chris about an idea of mine called Facebook for an online service where students can post pictures and information on themselves and use it as a directory. They were very intrigued by my idea and wanted to know more.
    dave told them that in the beginning, it would be an online service just for Harvard students, and then spreading through the other campuses in America, joining them up together. The idea was to make it easy for people to connect with other university students so they could get an idea of what other campuses were like, and even eventually spreading through the general public, giving them an idea of what was offered at the different campuses.
    Dustin and Chris were very intrigued with my idea and said they wanted to be on board.
    dave talked extensively about my ideas of Facebook and went into great detail of how to get it set up and started. They queried about the finance of setting it up and I told them I was in contact with Tony Robbins, who was interested by the idea and we were having discussions regarding his financial backing of the project

    So we needed a platform dave made contact with paul ceglia and was in discussion about a platform for my idea the facebook
    but zuckerberg was dustin & chris roommate and zuckerberg made contact to paul ceglia to steal the idea facebook
    paul ceglia had no legal right to sell the the platform to mark zuckerberg but zuckerberg new what he was doing when he sign the contract
    (paul ceglia had no legal right to sell the the platform to mark zuckerberg } the contract was to David not zuckerberg .

    And what are you going to do zuckerberg when paul ceglia wins you can call the contract a fake a counterfeit but you cant can you zuckerberg Yes you did sign a contract zuckerberg In a email zuckerberg called paul ceglia a dum sucker in 2003 i david posted a copy of to friend and he set it fee and the roomer spread years a go that zuckerberg had sign the contract and yes the abc news room have a copy of the email

    So zuckerberg what are your options zuck i suppose you can tell the truth you see paul cegia had no legal right to sell you the platform
    david was in contact to paul about a platform suitable for facebook but you wonted to steal facebook by stealth and you will have to tell
    your mother and farther and sisters how you stole the idea facebook yes pay back is a bitch zuck and your co conspire in this was dustin
    yes dustin you told zuck to shut up about facebook you little prick

    dave then found another contact at Harvard, called Eduardo Saverin and invited him to join me in developing my idea, and also to find out what was going on between Dustin, Chris and Mark . eduardo offered finance to get facebook up and runing but zuckerberg spent the money on him self selfish prick zuck spent eduardo saverin money and spat in his face your best friend

    So ass one last effort to save facbook david contacted sean parker At the time, he was running an online site called Napstar, and he was also working on another site called Wired Hog parker at the time was on the move moving in to a new address : I started conversing with
    sean parker about the idea facebook ; so i contacted the guys and gave them the new address of sean parker; and it was at this time zuckerberg was starting to argue with eduardo saverin: you see zuck had what he needed to steal facebook :{sean parker}

    Sean wanted 55% ownership of the project for his input so dave told him this was unacceptable and then he turned round and told Mark Zuckerberg had made him a better offer. dave told him that Mark did not own the idea of Facebook.
    He then got smart and asked me if dave knew what emails were and whether I could produce any evidence. dave took this as an attempt to see whether I could prove everything that took place and for him to use this as a weapon to see if he could gouge out as much interest in Facebook as he could, and he tried to play me off against Zuckerberg to get the maximum holdings of Facebook. I received an email from Parker saying that Zuckerberg had offered him 5% and was I interested in offering him more. At this point, I told him to **** off and that Facebook was not Zuckerberg’s idea

    So dave found a site at Harvard called Harvard Connect (later, in 2004 changed to Harvard Connect To You) run by Cameron and Taylor Winklevoss, and dave explained everything about Facebook and the dealings with Zuckerberg, Dustin and Chris and how dave believed that Zuckerberg was in the process of stealing david idea, and I dave asked if the Winklevosses were interested in running Facebook on the Harvard site

    They expressed enthusiasm in the offer and liked the idea of running the site as they liked the concept of Facebook.They told me that they were going to change their site name and redesign it at that time (to Harvard Connect To You The person they called in to help them
    redesign their site was Mark Zuckerberg who then stole their platform : I told them that zuckerberg was a crook the winklevoss where to dumb and dupe by zuckerberg LooooooooL.
    And what do the winklevoss remind me off; its two building and the two buildings were the TWIN TOWERS you guys talk about the truth like you own the truth but you do not and never will .

    dave then went to Aaron Greenspan who was running house systems at Harvard and asked him (under an email non disclosure agreement) to run Facebook on his site which he agreed to do. aaron greenspan used the (info) to extort financal money out of facebook and zuckerberg paid the extortion money and dave call it extortion U see zuckerberg new aaron greenspan new zuck had stolen the idea facebook .I sent all the emails copy to aaron greenspan:{ aaron sold him self off like a hooker standing on a street corner } and what was that quotation aaron that quotation you set me about honour and truth you now the same bullshit the winklevoss are bullshiting on about

    zuckerberg then went on to create a FAKE CONNECT 2U account filled with FAKE information from the stolen platform he stole from the winklevoss Dave got a email from this FAKE CONNECT 2U account . but dave new it was FAKE it was zuckerberg .
    zuckerber wonted more info and idea to steal so dave gave one idea and it was to put a silver layer around the F word on facebook to see if zuckerberg was going to steal this idea and yes he did

    david then log a complaint to the FBI about this stolen fake connect 2u account with fake information and about mark zuckerberg
    dave posted a copy of the emails to ben mezrick and to david kirkpatrick as for kirkpatrick your book is a joke and so are you :
    you are just a fence jumper david kirkpatrick and its chris that is the gay one you dick ‘you sold yourself out you were given the full story of how zuckerberg stole facebook; and sold out.

    So there we have it the full story of how facebook startd :