Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Facebook’s Mobile Plan Is Facebook’s International Plan

As far as Wall Street is concerned, mobile is Facebook’s primary bugaboo: More of its users are spending more of their Facebook time on their phones, where the company has yet to build a real ad business.

Another big worry: Most of Facebook’s growth is happening outside of the first world, where there’s barely any money in online ads.

So here’s a soothing story from Sheryl Sandberg, delivered at a press conference today in New York: Facebook is eventually going to solve both of these problems, at the same time.

Here’s the pitch:

I think people don’t really understand how invested a lot of the largest marketers and brands in the world are in global reach. People think they sort of discount growth outside the United States and the developed ad markets. But when we meet with our clients, they talk about the developing world all the time. For these huge customers, they already have all the customers in [developed] markets. And so their growth is increasingly tied to customers who are first getting connected on mobile.

Boom! That was easy.

Wisely, Sandberg and company haven’t been making much of that argument in public forums so far, because both mobile ads and ads in places like Africa and Asia are so nascent.

But Sheryl Sandberg is a very controlled public speaker, so if she says something in front of a room full of reporters, it’s certainly not the first time it’s come out of her mouth. And that means we’ll hear more of it down the line.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald