Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, wrote that he did not create Facebook to be a company, but it was built to be a social movement that will make this world “more open and connected.” The personal note came from the company’s SEC Registration letter on May 18, 2012.
More than a year has passed since Facebook filed its initial public offering. During that span its stock price plummeted but eventually regained momentum and traction in the market. But some things within Facebook did not change despite the roller coaster ride on the Big Board.
Earmark hoodies, high ratings from employees, high employee satisfaction rates, the “more open and connected” world still in mind – these things, and more, helps Zuckerberg to continue with his mission. But as the days pass by, Facebook is gradually becoming more a company rather than a social movement.
With more than 4,900 employees, more than 1.1 billion active users, and a market capitalization of more than $60 billion, Facebook has turned into one of the world’s largest companies. And the largest in the social networking industry. Going public added obligations to stockholders and this had a great impact on the social network, to its staff, and the release of new features.
Facebook, until last year’s IPO, was the epitome of a social networking site with a social movement. No cash flow involved, no income-generating features.
Then on May 18 last year, Facebook knocked the doors of the U.S. SEC to go public. This decision led to speculations from users and analysts that Zuckerberg was more interested on the revenue from monetization rather than turn Facebook into a public company. He said in the filing that even great people want to make money and that Facebook needs a “strong economic engine” to grow and align people to find solutions.
True to popular belief, Zuckerberg was serious when he hinted of moneymaking strategies. He ordered all product managers and teams to come up with strategies that will help generate revenue from the company’s products and services. The change in operations aligned with Facebook’s experiments on income generation across different products.
The changes became evident when Facebook started to charge its users $1 for each message sent to people who are not on the Friends list. It also added a premium for messages sent to celebrities using Facebook. For example, you can send a message to Zuckerberg for $100.
Although the social network gained negative feedback for the paid messages, it continued the moneymaking schemes. It added the option to promote posts in friends’ News Feeds for $7, saying this will improve the visibility of posts.
As history will tell you, Facebook then introduced advertisements into the platform.
Facebook had opened its doors to advertisers on-site, through pages, and through its various platforms. Ads can now be seen in the right column of your Facebook page, in the News Feed, and within the Facebook mobile apps across multiple platforms. According to rumors, Facebook may even start offering video ads in the News Feed in the near future.
The proliferation of ads on the website opens doubts whether Facebook primarily is a social network for users, a company for investors, or to be safe, both.
Earlier this year, Facebook revamped its News Feed to give users more freedom to organize the feed and their photos and to expand the space for marketers who want to use larger ads in the column. Thus so-called experts now mull over the imminent coming of video ads.
Owners of Android devices were abuzz when the social network announced the arrival of Facebook Home at the Google Play Store. The home screen replacement and app launcher was designed to put Facebook at the forefront of any Android device. It places people first rather than mobile apps, said Zuckerberg. But he did not hide the notion that it may also serve ads in the future.
From Income Generation To Mobile Strategies
Since the IPO, Facebook has been open about its mission to be a mobile-first company. It was born during the peak of the desktop computers and had received a great share of criticisms for its slow mobile app implementations, especially the decision to use HTML5.
To keep Facebook staff focused on mobile development, product managers forced them to use only mobile devices, rather than desktop computers and laptops, to access the website. And for some time, iPhone owners were ordered to switch to Android to understand the clamors of users on the platform over the app’s sluggish performance.
During the company’s earnings report for the fourth quarter of 2012, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had officially become a mobile company.
The Brushed-Up CEO
Facebook has changed since that fateful day of May 18. And so has its founder. Despite his trademark hoodies and casual talks about the hacker community, Zuckerberg has changed as a chief executive who talks with the public during interviews and big Facebook events. He now has a team of writers for his public speeches and appearances.