1 billion is the magic number for Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was not referring to dollars (directly, anyway), but to user totals for when Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and search will “start to become meaningful businesses,” he said during the social network’s third-quarter earnings call Tuesday.
In response to a question from Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter, Zuckerberg said:
Some of the things like search and some of these other products, this may sound a little ridiculous to say, but for us, products don’t really get that interesting to turn into businesses until they have about 1 billion people using them. And so for Facebook, we’re there with News Feed, and that’s why in the near term, our priority is really around continuing to grow and serve that community and making sure that the business around News Feed and those mobile ads fully reach their potential.
Over a five-year time frame, we have a number of services that we think are well on their way to reaching 1 billion people. Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and search are a number of them. And once we get to that scale, then we think that they will start to become meaningful businesses in their own right. And I think that the right way to think about that, as I’ve tried to say repeatedly on these calls is not that we’re going to try to monetize them very aggressively in the next year or two, because I really think for each of those categories, the right strategy is to first focus on connecting 1 billion-plus people and reaching the full potential before very aggressively turning them into businesses.
But I do think that this is such a big opportunity ahead of us. I can’t think of that many other companies or products that have multiple lines of products that are on track to reach and connect 1 billion that have a clear path of how we can turn them into a business. So that will be a very fun and exciting challenge to work on over the next five years.
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Billion image courtesy of Shutterstock.