Under the hood: Facebook success, acquisition and development
It’s the era of Facebook – for now. In order to be considered social, you have to be where the people are. And Facebook is where the people are at. Considering how many eras there have been before, the Facebook era may change over time. A visionary, Gordon Moore, is best known for his bold prediction known as the Moore’s Law which states that approximately every two years, the number of transistors on a chip will double.
But Forbes writer, Shel Israel, sees things the other way. According to him, the period of a company’s dominance is shrinking – IBM had it for 40 years, Microsoft for 20 years, Google for 10 years, and now you have the era of Facebook. Facebook will most likely exit the scene not with a bang, but will gradually ease into the "has-beens," slowly getting smaller with ad revenues slowly diminishing.
There’s era and then there’s generation. The Internet world had three generations – web 1.0 (web companies founded from 1994-2011), web 2.0 or Social (from 2002-2009) and mobile (from 2010 to present). Lest Facebook come up with some ways to monetize from mobile, it will fade to the background – not bankrupt gone, just Myspace gone.
Secret to Facebook Success
The people behind Facebook mean serious business when it comes to shaking the society’s status quo. There’s no dipping the toes wet, but getting a full splash, a characteristic of the mantra they have, "Hack". Search online for photos of the new Facebook headquarters and you’ll see that the word is basically plastered all over the place. It is a reminder to every personnel to do things fast, trying every stuff they could come up with to make countless small changes.
Moving fast and breaking things, as what Mark Zuckerberg himself puts it.
Although the word hack can have a negative predisposition, it is actually a reminder not only for those brains behind Facebook, but to everyone else to hurry up and make things happen.
In the Facebook scenario, hackathons are regularly held where coders stay up all night just to come up with fresh ideas to bring to the table. These all-nighters, fueled by beers and Chinese food, have been the venue for some of Facebook’s greatest developments, such as the Like button.
The Hacker Way consists of five attributes as summarized by Zuckerberg in a pre-IPO (Initial Public Offering) letter to shareholders.
1. Focus on impact
2. Move fast
3. Be bold
4. Be open
5. Build social value
In a nutshell, the Hacker Way is about unending development and iteration, a never-ending ending task of fixing something that’s not broken by people who don’t believe in mediocrity, and is up to the challenge of shaking the very status quo they exist in.
This philosophy is the foundation of Facebook’s success. If there’s room to push, they shove. Modern development and the advancement of technology do not take a break, and whoever has the bigger and better stick often wins. If Facebook had stop coming up with better and interesting innovations, it wouldn’t be recognized as the most viewed website in the world in 2011. Among its latest and biggest changes include the Timeline, which has received both positive and negative reception from users.
Facebook’s Q1 2012 saw revenue of more than a billion dollars, with monthly active user based of 901 million and a growing mobile user base reaching 500 million in April.
Instagram Acquisition and Zynga Relationship
One of the most recent Facebook deals that roused a few comments and stirred a few controversies in the online world is the acquisition of Instagram.
Instagram is a free photo sharing program that allows a fast and beautiful way of sharing photos through various social media sites. It was launched in Apple’s App Store on October 6, 2010, yet was bought by Facebook for $1.1 billion in cash on April 2012.
There have been mixed reactions from users of the extremely popular mobile photo sharing platform including issues of privacy. To date, this is Facebook’s biggest acquisition deal.
No matter its reception, Facebook has made its move on dominating not only the photo sharing space, but the mobile photo sharing aspect as well which it has yet to make its mark on. The fact that Instagram is seeing nearly 300 million photo uploads daily, Facebook is definitely making its headway in the mobile marketing scene.
Zynga, on the other hand, is a social network game development company responsible for 12% of Facebook’s revenue in 2011. The various Zynga games on Facebook have more than 240 million users, the top five widely used games being CityVille, CastleVille, Zynga Poker, FarmVille, and Empires & Allies.
The various online games are one of Facebook’s great features that help keep users from getting bored of the social site. Most games are interactive, allowing users to play against each other, and even has a publish to wall option for your scores and rankings.
The details between Facebook and Zynga relationship include a 2010 five-year agreement for Zynga to exclusively use Facebook credits, all Facebook-integrated Zynga games must remain exclusive to Facebook for the duration of the agreement, and that Zynga must inform Facebook of any new games at least one week prior their release.
Announced in September 2011, the Timeline is Facebook’s latest big development. Timeline allows users to present their story — status updates, photos, important life events — in a media-rich profile page chronologically arranged from present day to the user’s date of birth, for easy profile browsing. So those photos buried from way back, will get unearthed; and status updates about wacky stuffs and dirty shenanigans will be accessible for any profile viewer.
Change is inevitable, not only in the online world. Although Timeline brings a lot of curiosity and interesting features, it does also give rise to a few concerns for some users.
YES it’s visually effective since it affords a great way of presenting your page. Logical and intuitive, attracting interest in a very simple and organized manner. Aside from the Lifeline, users can make use of the Cover photo feature that can serve as a banner for your page – an image shoutout, you could say.
NO, it doesn’t promote privacy. The Timeline in general promotes larger amount of personal data to protect. Updating to Timeline needs for the user to share more personal information and experiences, particularly updates related to key events which the user may want to restrict to close group of friends. Sometimes, a user can inadvertently share content that they shouldn’t have.
The fact remains that the Timeline is an exciting and innovative feature despite its privacy flaws and potential problems. Others may be too keen about updating to Timeline, while the rest may remain wary and will try to hold on to the older – and safer for them – version where they’re more comfortable.
In order for Facebook to stay as the top dog, it has to keep in tune with its mortality thus continuously coming up with something new and something big to keep the society and user on their toes. After all, any hot young tech company can be easily blindsided by an even hotter and younger tech company.
This guest post was contributed by Phil, an firm believer in the power of social media marketing for businesses.