Live Blogging: A Conversation With Mark Zuckerberg

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By Nick O'Neill Comments

-Photo of Mark Zuckerberg with John BattelleI’m at Web 2.0 Summit, where John Battelle and Mark Zuckerberg will be having a 20- to 25-minute conversation. I’ll be live blogging the conversation so feel free to refresh. They should be taking the stage in the next five minutes, so check back for live updates.

1:48 pm – John Battelle and Mark Zuckerberg should be taking the stage momentarily

John Battelle (JB) asks: How’s the financing going
Mark Zuckerberg (MZ): We had really good terms on the round with Mark Zuckerberg.

JB: Trips to Dubai.
MZ: Oh

JB: Do you need money?
MZ: No.

JB: One of the things you told me related to money is that you are not focused on optimizing for revenue. There have been articles suggesting that you’ll have to focus on it now

MZ: There’s a team at Facebook who worked on building the translations application and now we have more than 20 languages available. We want to make sure people can share and connect with the people around them. In the past I’ve said we aren’t focused on revenue and people have interpreted that as to mean that we aren’t focused on revenue but currently we have two solid revenue streams.

We’re also opening new offices. We have one in France, we’ve opened one in dublin.

JB: How does it breakdown? Brand versus online.

MZ: Both are growing in different ways.

JB: When you did the deal with Microsoft it was a big part of your revenue mix.

MZ: When we did it early on it was a much larger portion of the revenue but that’s no longer the case.

JB: Do you think Steve Ballmer is happy with the price he paid?

MZ: I think it was more about the partnership and lest about the investment. We’ve found that they’ve been a really good partner. They’ve been a very good partner in that we are both trying to “build new things” … not much details there.

JB: But do you think Steve’s happy with the price he paid?

MZ: People really obsess over the price.

JB: It was $15 Billion …

MZ: We felt like we got favorable terms and it made sense for us to do. If we can succeed at making it so that a large portion of people around the world are involved in the development and usage of Facebook then it’s really good. We aren’t focused on justifying a $15 billion valuation.

JB: Can you remind people how many people work at Facebook?

MZ: It’s over 700 right now.

JB: Do you have a hiring freeze?

MZ: No … we’re hiring really great people. We’re really aggressively expanding the sales effort. Take France for example, I was just visiting. 7 percent of their population is on Facebook. When I go back in a year it could be 25 or 30 percent of the population and that’s why we put an office there.

JB: Let’s talk about Connect.

MZ: We just announced that anyone can apply. We’re now working toward the full opened release.

JB: There is a criticism that Facebook is a walled garden and that you don’t want to be part of OpenSocial and a broader, distributed web.

MZ: There’s this very clear transition from closed systems to open systems. Overtime I think it’s worth exploring how the companies can work together. Right now the particpating companies are much smaller than Facebook individually. Mark mentions Facebook potentially becoming the open standard.

The reason that Microsoft became such a big company is because they didn’t attempt to build the entire computer, instead they built an open platform for people to build on. We got through this hurdle of people not wanting to put up their information and the way we got through that was privacy settings.

JB: Mentions the multiple people that have been fired due to Facebook just from today alone.

MZ: Well the privacy settings are there. We’re trying to make more tools for people to share information and now with Facebook Connect they can do that from their own websites. If were not on the edge of that we’re not doing a good job.

JB: When you announced this last year everybody ran into their meeting rooms to ask what are web going to build. A year later, there’s a feeling that the platform hasn’t lived up to its potential. There has been some criticism from people here.

MZ: Earlier this year we changed the way the platform works. What we basically did was we skewed the incentives for developers. The amount of attention that an application gets is directly proportional to the amount that they let share information.

JB: Give us an example of applications that are going well.

MZ: With the election Causes has been doing pretty well. When we changed the platform we knew that applications that just put boxes in peoples’ profiles would be hurt. Anything built around user interfaces can now be built on their own website. It’s inherently making a site social to plug into Facebook Connect. We took a slightly slower ramp up period and we learned from the last time that we’d like to be more careful about it.

JB: How do you and your partners make money with Facebook Connect?

MZ: For the first version there is nothing that is revenue generation. The whole model is ad driven. If people are using their Facebook data around the web there is a direct correlation with how their using the site.

JB: Let’s talk about the online ad piece. Is Twitter just a feature of Facebook?

MZ: I think they’re doing really great stuff. Is it a feature? I think they’re a great tool.

JB: Is Twitter a partner for Facebook Connect?

MZ: Yeah.

JB: Is the model an endorsement model or is there another model?

MZ: The brands we are mainly working with now, the ads have been performing fairly well. We have a second iteration of engagement ads. We launched Social Ads last year and we released a new form of engagement ads on the homepage this year. People don’t just want to see news, they want to see what’s going on with their friends. When we see other people and their friends engaging with an ad, it makes it more likely that other people engage with that ad. Mark Zuckerberg is now going over the types of ads that are being run currently.

JB: I want to ask you about something that has come up in the past few days. One of those is that Facebook has been banned in the workplace. There are a lot of things that make FAcebook not useful for inside companies. What do you think of that market?

MZ: Anecdotally we’ve seen a trend in the opposite direction. Financial companies initially blocked them for security purposes, but companies are making it now so people can communicate at work but not directly with their own co-workers. The same type of incentive systems that the site is built off, sharing information and getting feedback, has been working for some companies that use the Facebook platform.

JB: We talked about Connect, exporting a feed, etc. On Google I’d love to check out my Facebook feed so I can make Adsense for Facebook. Is this why you aren’t doing OpenSocial?

MZ: I think people are making this out to be a lot more than it is.

JB: That’s my job, we’re on stage.

MZ: There’s a lot going on between each of these companies and we see a clear trend of people sharing more information online and eventually you can have public streams and things like that. We’ve moved in that direction and on the platform side it’s really early.

Audience Question (US.com Writer): Do you have a plan for retention of members?

MZ: This has always been an interesting stat about Facebook. We always have this pretty amazing stat that 50 percent of users are active every day. What we do is help people share things online. If we continue building things that help people share information with the people they want in the places they want to, we’ll see people continue to share more information online, doubling year after year. I think the best strategy is to contin

Audience Question: We created a huge presence on Facebook with a page around a political issue. It grew to be 140,00 members (Proposition 8). Do you see pages end of life?

MZ: I think people use this successfully. Whether it’s to overthrow regimes or have a policy.