Live-Blogging a Facebook Chat Product Launch at the Start of “Launching Season 2011”

Today, Facebook is launching a new product at its Palo Alto headquarters. The company has done far fewer press events like this in 2011 versus last year, especially last fall. The previous one was in early April, about something different — its Open Compute data project.

Our paraphrased live-blog, below:

10:14

Mark Zuckerberg is on: Today marks the beginning of “launching season” of 2011. [He tells a story about a neighbor asking for video chat.]

But I want to talk about the bigger trends. It’s always about connecting people. “Looking at all these new people getting connected.” Until the last couple of years, most people really had open questions about whether social networking would be something that reaches everyone in the world. That chapter is more or less done at this point. Sure, we’re not everywhere yet. But there’s this clear arch where now the world generally believes that it  is going to be everywhere.

People want to stay connected. Somebody’s going to be building tools. Metric has been user growth. One of our engineers at a hackathon built a visualization of the world, between people in different places.

The next five years? Yes, connecting us, but it won’t be wiring up the world. It’ll be about the cool apps you can build, this wiring and social infrastructure. It really reminded me of those maps of the internet. When it was first developing, really serious companies built up in specific areas, where it’s the best that they can do.

10:20

One thing that’s important is how you measure these things. If you measure in active users, that doesn’t tell you everything. The amount of stuff that the given user shares today is about twice the amount they shared a year ago. Then twice as much a year from now [and so on]. They started off sharing one thing a week, then sharing a ton of stuff.

One of my investors likes to say that humans are bad at estimating exponential growth.

If you took a piece of paper and folded it 50 times, most people think it’d go a few feet, but it’d actually go to the moon and back 10 times.

It’s growing at a much faster rate than user growth. We’ve grown to 750 million users. But sharing has grown much more.

[Then he talks about Moore’s Law.] 18 months from now, 36 months from now, we see our own growth and the growth of the Facebook ecosystem, you can plot this same sort of trend out into the future.

10:25

What types of apps will need to exist 3 to 5 years from now? If you look at where the site started off, you can see that people share .1 things a day. Then built more and more. Photos. Way before mobile photos, so mostly big albums. Once every few weeks on average. Then news feed increased the rate of flow. Platform brought a whole new wave. Then the Like button, Groups, lighter-weight messages.

More than 4 billion things shared every day.

The stuff that we’re doing today doesn’t have to do with today.

There are three specific things.

1. Group Chat. More than half our users are using Groups. Really powerful. Not everyone does sharing. We want to make it so you can do ad-hoc chat as well.

2. New Chat design. Reported awhile ago that there are billions of messages going through our chat system per day. One thing that’s been surprising to us is how hard it is to find people who are online. If we can make it so people who have the screenwidth to run the normal Facebook and run a buddy list, we think a lot of people will want  this. We’re already one of if not the biggest chat service in the world.