John Paczkowski

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TechCrunch's Michael Arrington Chats With Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

Digital Daily’s John Paczkowski is blogging from TechCrunch40 in San Francisco. Technical difficulties at the conference site prevented him from live-blogging, so he summarized the day’s closing session, a “chat” between TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Arrington introduces Zuckerberg.

First question: So how ya doin’?

Zuckerberg: I’m OK. Cool conference …

Arrington opts to avoid retelling the Facebook story, which at this point is nearly a creation myth, and “dive deep” into the company’s recent accomplishments. Does Facebook think it can maintain the extraordinary growth it’s seen to date? he asks.

Zuckerberg: Yes. We’re seeing tremendous international growth.

Arrington asks how many attendees have Facebook accounts. Hands raised all around. How many of you used it today? he inquires. Respectable show of
hands. How many are on it right now? Uncomfortable laughter.

Arrington asks about the proliferation of feed-sharing on the site (feeds reduce views because you don’t need to surf another page to see what your friends are doing.) Zuckerberg responds that it was a trade-off between page views and usability and that usability triumphed.

Moving on to the Facebook platform and the launch event in May in San Francisco: What the hell is a social graph? Arrington asks.

Zuckerberg attempts to explain. Facebook isn’t a social graph, it’s a model of the social graph that exists in the real world. We’re mirroring it as accurately as possible.

(Zuckerberg, in his dress and his manner, is clearly trying to be Steve Jobs, but he’s about as Bill Gates as you get. In fact, if you close your eyes and listen only to his voice, you’d swear he was Gates.)

The conversation moves on to APIs and third-party apps. What’s your favorite third party app? Arrington wonders.

I can’t answer that, says Zuckerberg.


Because, Zuckerberg responds, we’re neutral.

Well, Arrington perseveres, what’s your favorite app as a user?

Zuckerberg: Oh, I like the video stuff.

Moving on … Facebook platform and the problems it encountered following launch. Zuckerberg says the company wanted a decentralized neutral platform, one that self-polices. “So we ran into problems with spam, etc., but we fixed them and our users helped us to do that.”

Arrington asks if this strategy doesn’t in the end benefit spammers and others who exploited the platform for their own benefit and never faced any repercussions for doing so. Zuckerberg says no and, in a herculean bit of rationalization, says
that ultimately those who exploit the platform drive its refinement and further development.

(Interesting, Zuckerberg for the third time has just compared Facebook
to “Windows, Linux and other platforms.” Odd that he doesn’t include LinkedIn, Friendster, and Orkut in that list. Wonder if that’s on purpose.

Evolution of Facebook email. Arrington inquires: Does Facebook’s addition of the ability to email non-Facebook accounts hint at further email refinements, a more generalized email application?

Zuckerberg says that Facebook isn’t designed to be an email product, but that the company will obviously consider further refinements to the email app.

On to funding. Arrington mentions the report by BoomTown’s Kara Swisher about Facebook looking for funding. Zuckerberg repeats the standard party line: We’re not looking to be acquired, we’re not looking to go public, etc.

But apparently, they’re looking to fund others. Zuckerberg announces the FB Fund, a $10 million fund he’s established with folks like Jim Breyer of Accel Partners and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman to issue grants to Facebook developers. Grant sizes are $25,000 to $250,000. No equity participation, but first right-of-refusal for second round.

On to a possible Facebook/News Corp. liaison: Arrington asks if News Corp. acquired Facebook and LinkedIn and came to you and said how will you unify those two networks with MySpace, what would you do?

Zuckerberg’s answer: Nothing. It will never happen.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work