By Brian Morrissey
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage in a packed auditorium here in Cannes to explain where he sees the world going. It's going to be a lot more open, a lot more connected and a lot more personalized. He believes Facebook, if it executes correctly, can get to 1 billion users worldwide from the 500 million it has today. In an interview with Ad Age executive editor Abbey Klaassen, Zuckerberg said he's banking on people seeing continued benefits to sharing information with each other—and critically, altering their notions of privacy.
The privacy question, to Zuckerberg, involves balancing the need to give people control and maintain openness. He said there's a "natural tension" between the two. Zuckerberg didn't make any grand pronouncements. Instead, clad in a T-shirt rather than his trademark hooded sweatshirt, he explained to the ad world how he sees communications becoming more transparent and more two-way. That applies to advertising, too. Facebook has offered advertisers ads that allow some measure of dialog with users, whether letting them broadcast to their friends that they "like" a brand or through polling and other social features of the site.
(Video from the event after the jump.)
The key is that media is getting personalized. "We're going to look back at this and wonder why it wasn't always like that," Zuckerberg said. That's going to upend sectors. Gaming is one area that's seen a big shift, with companies like Zynga stealing a march on incumbent gaming companies by building social games. "The games are designed around the core assumption that you're doing it with your friends," he said.
Regarding the company's future, the 26-year-old Zuckerberg said he doesn't plan on stepping aside for a more seasoned CEO anytime soon. He'll continue to focus on product development, he said, since that's critical to Facebook achieving its mission of leading a more open and connected world.
Photo by Francois Durand.