Chances are you’ve been on it today. More than 1 billion users visit it daily. Most of us start our day and check our personalized news feed, see who is celebrating a birthday, and keep up with our friends and family on the platform. It’s worth over $400 billion and is in the rare air of companies like Google and Apple.
Of course, I’m talking about Facebook (join me here). It’s not only changed the way we consume information, but also how we interact with the world.
In Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World, Mike Hoefflinger takes us from the start of 2009 and its 150 million users to its explosive growth over the next several years.
Mike Hoefflinger is a 25-year veteran of Silicon Valley. After working directly for Andy Grove at Intel and as general manager of the Intel Inside program, Mike moved to Facebook to serve as Head of Global Business Marketing. During his nearly seven years there, the teams he built helped dramatically grow Facebook’s advertising business. He is now an executive-in-residence at XSeed Capital.
I recently spoke with him about all things Facebook.
Behind Facebook’s Unprecedented Rise
What are some of the factors behind Facebook’s unprecedented rise to its worldwide phenomenon status?
Any story of Facebook’s rise starts with Mark Zuckerberg. While it would be difficult to acquire his vision and intuition, we can learn from how he goes about moving Facebook forward. With Facebook’s mission to make the world more open and connected in place since its earliest days, Zuckerberg has always preferred doing to talking. Whether it is building and launching thefacebook.com, staying calm during stormy product launches or competitive episodes, making big decisions to grow the business, self-disrupting the company via large acquisitions to protect itself, or betting on futures others dismiss or don’t see (such as VR/AR and connecting the next billion Internet users), dogma and fear never swamp the doing.
Would you share some statistics on Facebook’s current reach? How often we access it? How it compares to other media?
It’s difficult to over-state how large Facebook has become. Not only does it serve more than 1.94 billion people a month—about two-thirds of all Internet users in the world—it serves two-thirds of those every day, on average once every waking hour. No wonder it is the single most popular mobile app ever. And while that would be impressive, the company is also home to three of the next five most popular global communications tools: WhatsApp at more than 1.2 billion users a month, Messenger at more than 1.2 billion, and Instagram with more than 700 million. With consumers on the way to making mobile the most important medium ever—it is forecast to eclipse the amount of time we spend per person on television in 2020—Facebook is its pre-eminent force.
CEOs Who Transform How We Live
What can we learn from great CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg?
Zuckerberg has become a member of a very small group of CEOs in the last five decades who run consumer technology companies that invent the future for us, create the things we cannot live without, and touch hundreds of millions, and sometimes billions, of lives: Intel’s Andy Grove, Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Alphabet’s Larry Page and Tesla’s Elon Musk. After observing them the last 25 years in Silicon Valley, I’ve detected three things these product-centric founding CEOs have in common:
(1) They pursue an achievable-unachievable mission—something so big it cannot be completed, but one that offers moments of success along the path to bring confidence and momentum to employees, customers and observers.
(2) They are able to see—and willing to pursue—things that are very clever, but appear foolish in most minds initially. This way they avoid the food-fight of ideas everyone else thinks are clever, a road to nowhere of ideas that not only appear foolish but actually are. They usually know something—especially about technology and customers—that no-one else does.
(3) They are running 21st Century Medici Academies that attract the best talent. 500 years before Silicon Valley, the Medici family of Renaissance Florence built facilities, bestowed patronage and hosted discussion forums for the brightest minds of the period, including Michelangelo, DaVinci and Botticelli. The vision, scale and success of these modern-day CEOs make their teams highly attractive for today’s builders with the biggest dreams.
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