Got a Question for Mark Zuckerberg?

1 Nov 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ad Wars: Facebook’s Atlas Takes On Google.

Zuckerberg said Facebook already hosts these types of Q&A sessions with employees every Friday, but on Nov. 6, he’ll answer questions that members of the public can submit ahead of time on this page. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will host his first ‘community Q&A’ session on November 6 giving the public an opportunity to ask him any question they want.On Facebook’s earnings call this week, management stunned investors with plans to ramp spending as much as 75% in 2015, more than double the 35% analysts expected. He said in the past, employees have asked ”thoughtful questions about why our company is going in certain directions, what I think about things happening in the world, and how we can continue improving our services for everyone,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “I learn a lot from these Q&As and the questions people ask help us build better services.” The announcement comes right after Zuckerberg did a Q&A at Tsinghua University last week. A video of the Q&A will be livestreamed on Facebook, and a recording of the video will be uploaded afterward. [The Q&A] is an important part of Facebook’s culture.

The Facebook CEO laid out his three, five, and ten-year goals for the social networking company during its third quarter conference call with investors held earlier this week. And according to Mark, he’s just getting started: “Video is a very big priority, news is a very big priority, mobile is a very big priority.” (Reads like a Facebook status update, right?) Over the next 10 years Facebook will move into building the next generation of the web, which Zuckerberg is betting will involve virtual reality (very exciting for geeks who can’t get a date). Facebook made a huge investment in its messaging strategy when it acquired mobile messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion in February of this year, the company’s largest acquisition to date. He also outlined that he wants at least “one billion users” on each of the various apps he’s building (or buying), which underlines just how ridiculously big Facebook is.

The deal gave Facebook access to the unlimited text messaging service’s 400 million users worldwide at a time when investors were skeptical of the company’s mobile strategy. One unifying thread in Facebook’s transition from a few core apps to a multitude of apps is Atlas, Facebook’s new ad tech platform – it works horizontally across Facebook’s apps. Facebook has pushing the Q&A tool as a tool for politicians and celebrities to interact with their fans, much like Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) forum, which has seen President Barack Obama, Madonna and Bill Gates participate.

There are also multiple top comments asking when or if Facebook will bring back organic reach, which refers to how many people can be reached for free on Facebook simply by posting information on your page. After all, Facebook benefits from what I call the “network effect”: everyone goes there because everyone else goes there, including your cousin Cindy, who posts vague, moody status updates (though she “doesn’t want to talk about it”) and your Aunty Flo, who posts pictures of her cake-decorating and her grandchildren. The company plans to continue growing both WhatsApp and its mobile Messenger service, following its initial attempt to transition more users to the Messenger app earlier this year. “We believe that this change allows us to offer a better and faster messaging experience on mobile, and our data shows that people who use Messenger, usually respond to messages about 20% faster,” Zuckerberg told investors. Since the Q&A with Mark Zuckerberg page is already up, some enthusiastic followers have already started asking questions in the comments section on a variety of topics. A few questions asked by the public included, “Hi Mark, do you think Facebook will be forever free?”, “Do you see Facebook being used in China in future?”, “Can Facebook help struggling non profits to market themselves at reduced cost?” and “How many Instagrams are in a kilogram?” Let’s see what answers Mark has in store.

Zuckerberg mentioned the 10 billion video views Facebook gained from this summer’s “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which reached 440 million people, he said during the call. Atlas looks for key characteristics, like age and gender and even location as it applies to mobile users — near the street corner of pizza parlor, how about a coupon? Internet.org is a partnership between Facebook and mobile phone companies — Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera Software, and Qualcomm — geared toward increasing the affordability of Internet access and facilitating new business models predicated on widespread Internet use. Facebook recently launched the Internet.org app in Zambia, where it provides free data access to a set of basic Internet services for health, education, employment and communication.

One of Facebook’s first serious forays into video was making them auto-play in your news feed, which didn’t turn out to be as annoying as you’d expect. However, Zuckerberg has announced that in the next year five short films based on the blockbuster Twilight will be released — exclusively on Facebook. Amazon’s aggressive moves led to an earnings disappointment in last week’s third-quarter report, with a net loss of $437 million, deeper than the year-ago loss of $41 million. We trust Facebook with more private information than we give our parents and partners, so sharing our money shouldn’t be that much of a stretch, right? The risk for investors is that to avoid getting hit in the googles Facebook needs to keep making big hairy bets that make absolutely no financial sense — at least in the short-term.

Case in point: Facebook’s purchase of messaging service WhatsApp for a massive $US22 billion. (To put that figure in perspective, for similar money you could buy both Harley Davidson and Hertz Rent-a-Car and still have change). When asked about the losses Zuckerberg shrugged them off, saying he doesn’t really get interested in a product until it has one billion users (WhatsApp is only halfway there). One thing’s for sure — the growth in mobile will ensure that Facebook will likely hit Zuckerberg’s one, two and possibly three-year goals and the stock will march higher.

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