Custom Search

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg Unveils New Facebook Redesign On "60 Minutes"

Mark Zuckerberg & Facebook: What's Next?

If you have a Facebook account, you've probably reconnected with an old pal, shared photos with your family, and gotten advice from your friends on what to buy and what to read. It's pretty likely you logged on today.

Lately, the social networking site has been introducing new products - one after the next - with the goal, it seems, of turning the entire Web into one big social network, so eventually the Internet will be Facebook.

As if the company wasn't surging enough, the movie "The Social Network" about the creation of Facebook has heightened interest, especially in its 26-yr-old CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

Now Facebook is about to get a facelift, and agreed to launch its new look on "60 Minutes."

Correspondent Lesley Stahl went out to Palo Alto, Calif. and sat down with Zuckerberg to discuss his creation, which is used today by a whopping 500 million people in 70 languages all around the world.

"When you first thought about this, 19 years old, is this what you had in mind? Did you see this far into the future? Or is it way beyond what you dreamed?" Stahl asked.

"Well, it's funny. When I was getting started, with my roommates in college, you never think that you could build this company or anything like that, right? Because, I mean, we were college students, right?" Zuckerberg said. "And we were just building stuff 'cause we thought it was cool. I do remember having these specific conversations with my friends where we thought, you know, someone is gonna build this. Someone is gonna build something that makes it so that people can stay connected with their friends and their family, but no way would we be the ones who were contributing to, kinda, leading the whole Internet in this direction."

But that's what he's doing - leading the whole Internet in his direction. In a non-descript T-shirt at a non-descript desk, Zuckerberg runs a vast global empire with the world's largest population after China and India.

Stahl first met him three years ago, at Facebook's old graffiti'd building in downtown Palo Alto. The company has since decamped to giant hangers nearby to accommodate their explosive growth. The graffiti is largely gone, except for one word you just can't miss.

"I see 'hack' everywhere: 'Hack,'" Stahl pointed out. "It has a negative connotation, doesn't it?"

"When we say hacker, there's this whole definition that engineers have for themselves, where it's very much a compliment when you call someone a hacker, where to hack something means to build something very quickly, right? In one night, you can sit down and you could churn out a lot of code, and at the end, you have a product," Zuckerberg explained.

Which is what he expects from his 500 engineers: as we walked through the Facebook offices, we got a sense of high-level competition, whether it's writing code into the night or taking breaks to play speed chess. It's a constant game of one-upmanship.

Zuckerberg told Stahl about the company's "hackathons."

"Hackathons are these things where just all of the Facebook engineers get together and stay up all night building things," he said. "And, I mean, usually at these hackathons, I code too, just alongside everyone."

As he spoke, Stahl remembered his awkwardness from three years ago, and how he rarely blinks. But he's far more relaxed now, easier to smile, and noticeably more confident, as he tells you about all the new products they keep launching.

On Monday, Dec. 6, the company will launch a new layout for the heart of the site: every user's profile page.

For example, Zuckerberg's old page is filled with scrapbook-like entries in no order of importance, like "Andy Samberg plays me on Saturday Night Live."

You have to dig around to get any real sense of who Zuckerberg is as a person.

The new page is in effect "the Mark Zuckerberg story"- or how he wants his friends to see him. His bio information is right up top, with the kind of details he'd tell you if you met him.

"I work at Facebook and I spend all of my time there, right? I mean, here are my friends. I grew up in New York and now I live in California, right. Those really kind of basic, important things," he explained.

Under the bio are the latest photos posted by him or his friends. It's like a running ticker tape of his life. Every day, a staggering 100 million photos are uploaded on to the site.

"Lots of photos," Stahl remarked, looking at the new design.

"People love photos," Zuckerberg said. "Photos originally weren't that big a part of the idea for Facebook, but we just found that people really like them, so we built out this functionality."

A dozen engineers and designers worked on the new layout in a war room of sorts. They raced against a real countdown clock, telling them how much time was left to complete each high priority task.

They came up with several new features, including a new section, located on the left of the profile page: where you can now list the important people in your life, like your parents, siblings, spouse, roommates, or friends.

Another new feature, called “the friendship page,” pulls up a history of your relationship with any of your Facebook friends.

"You can see all the things that you have in common with that person. And it gives you this amazing connection with that person in a way that the current version of the profile that we have today just doesn't do," Zuckerberg said.

For the over-sharers among us, you'll still get the newsfeed.

Also new: there's lots more graphics under "What's important to you." Zuckerberg likes Lady Gaga and epic movies; and finally, there's a sports section. He plays tennis, and likes the Yankees.

But whenever Facebook introduces something new, there are always questions about how it protects our personal data.

"There's a sense that you, after all this time, aren't always aboveboard, and that there's some hidden motive to, kind of, invade our privacy, take the information and use it to make money," Stahl pointed out.

"We never sell your information. Advertisers who are using the site never get access to your information," Zuckerberg said.

But the new layout does encourage us to reveal more about ourselves on Facebook. Earlier this year, the company also introduced a new button, where users can tell Facebook what they "like" in over 100,000 sites: whether it's a new pair of jeans, or a "60 Minutes" story.

So the company does compile and control an ever-growing inventory of your likes and interests, and if Facebook itself doesn't sell the information to advertisers, applications (or apps) that run on Facebook by outside companies have been known to.

"It's against all of our policies for an application to ever share information with advertisers," Zuckerberg said.

"But they do. They do," Stahl said.

"And then, we shut them down if they do," Zuckerberg said.

Stahl talked to Kara Swisher, the editor of "All Things Digital," a Web site about high tech in Silicon Valley.

"You know, I wonder if Facebook can exist if it doesn't invade privacy," Stahl said.

"That's right. That's exactly right," Swisher agreed.

"So it needs to invade privacy. The issue is transparency, isn't it?" Stahl asked.

"Kind of, yes," Swisher said.

"How up front they are with the users…," Stahl said.

"That is, I think, Mark's one weakness. And I think that was why he got so nervous in the interview we did," Swisher replied.

Swisher is referring to a conference in June where she grilled Zuckerberg on privacy in an interview she calls a "sweat-o-palooza." "And he had, like, flop sweat and it was really quite disturbing actually to watch," she remembered.

She was pushing him to admit that Facebook is misleading about its privacy policies - an issue that comes up time and time again.

"Now, do we get it right all the time? No!" Zuckerberg told Stahl. "But it's something that we take really seriously, and every day we come to work and just try to do a good job on this."

"And yet, you've got the FTC looking into it, you have members of Congress looking into it. There have been privacy groups have lodged formal complaints. You've hired a lobbyist in Washington to deal with this, so you know it's a problem," Stahl said.

"Well, I think that it's a really important thing for everyone to…just be thinking about. I mean, privacy and making sure that people have control over their information is, I think, one of the most fundamental things on the Internet," Zuckerberg said.

It has become even more important as Facebook introduces one new product after the next.

Chris Cox, 28, is head of product development. He sits across the desk from Zuckerberg and thinks about what's next for Facebook. And increasingly, he's thinking outside your desktop.

According to Cox, over 200 million people are accessing Facebook through their mobile device. He told Stahl it's a huge part of the future.

"Is Facebook developing a phone device? Like Apple did iPhone?" Stahl asked.

"No," Cox replied. "We're working on building software that can be used on all phones."

Their latest product is "Messages," which combines e-mail, cell phone texting and instant messages into one. They call it the ultimate switchboard.

Asked if he thinks e-mail will become obsolete, Cox told Stahl, "I'm not sure. But what we've found is that more people are using messages, are moving away from e-mail. And so if we build a really compelling experience, I think people are going to switch over. But I'm not going to call the end of anything."

"Was this directed at Gmail? Google's e-mail?" Stahl asked.

"No," Cox said.

"Because everybody is talking about a Gmail killer," Stahl said.

"It's certainly what everyone's writing about," Cox acknowledged.

When asked if Facebook and Google are on a collision course, Kara Swisher told Stahl, "They are indeed."

The fight, Swisher explained, is over search. "How people find, discovery, search."

Say you want to buy a car. You can type "Prius" on Google and get publicly available information. Or you can type "Prius" in Facebook and get personal advice about it from your friends.

"Are you tryin' to turn everything we do on the Web into a social function?" Stahl asked.

"I think what we've found is that when you can use products with your friends and your family and the people you care about, they tend to be more engaging," Zuckerberg said. "I think that we're really going to see this huge shift where a lot of industry is and products are just going to be remade to be social."

It's already happening: this year, people spent more time on Facebook than on Google.

"So you're out here in Silicon Valley. Can you feel a tectonic plates…shifting over?" Stahl asked Kara Swisher.

"Well you can see the talent shift over," she replied. "You know, and there's been a big war about talent and payments, millions of dollars to keep people, engineers at Google."

Zuckerberg's number two, Sheryl Sandberg, defected from Google; he recently wooed over the inventor of Google Maps, and he even poached Google's cafeteria chef.

"There's kind of a talent brain drain from them to you, something like 200 people who work for you. Ten percent are former Googlers, right?" Stahl asked.

"I do think it's clear there are areas where the companies compete. But then, there are all these areas where we just don't compete at all," Zuckerberg said.

"Is the goal for you to conquer the whole Internet? To own the Internet?" Stahl asked.

"Well, think about it like this: people, if they can use the product of any category, photos, groups, music, TV, anything, either by themselves or with their friends, I think most of the time, people want to do those things with their friends," he replied.

"So, is the answer yes?" Stahl asked, laughing. "Come on."

"The answer…is that we want to help other people build a lot of these products," he replied.

He doesn't like to talk about competing with Google, just as he didn't three years ago, when Stahl compared him to its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

"You seem to be replacing Larry and Sergey as the people out here who everyone's talking about. You're just staring at me," Stahl said to Zuckerberg in their first interview, in 2007.

"Is that a question?" Zuckerberg replied, after a long pause.

That line is now in "The Social Network," the movie about Facebook.

The question is: who is the real Mark Zuckerberg? And how did Facebook really get its start?

Facebook's launch of its new profile page will include a tutorial on all the new features, and for a while you'll be able to choose between staying with your old profile or upgrading to the new, where you get to tell your friends who you really are. We decided to take the opportunity of the launch to find out more about who Zuckerberg really is.

As Facebook becomes an intrinsic part of so many lives, how the site came to be in the first place is now the fodder of creation myths, a handful of lawsuits, at least two books, and a movie: all focusing on its co-founder and CEO.

"Half a billion people give you their personal information. Do you feel that because of that, they have a right to know a lot about you personally? About your values….?" Stahl asked.

"Yeah, I think that because of that, we have to do a very good job of communicating, as a company, really…," Zuckerberg replied.

"No, you. I'm talking about you, Mark Zuckerberg. Is it important to know who's running Facebook in light of that?" she asked.

"Yeah. Yeah, it is," he replied.

Interest in what makes Zuckerberg tick has heightened since the release of the movie "The Social Network," that depicts him as a callous genius, who betrays friends and principles to protect his creation, Facebook.

The real Zuckerberg vowed he would never see the film; on opening day he changed his mind.

"We took the whole company to go see the movie," he recalled. "I actually thought it was pretty fun."

"But I guess my question is: Was it hard to watch for you?" Stahl asked.

"In watching it, it's pretty interesting to see what parts they got right and what parts they got wrong. I think that they got every single T-shirt that they had the Mark Zuckerberg character wearing right. I think I actually own those T-shirts," Zuckerberg said. "And they got sandals right and all that. But I mean, there are hugely basic things that they got wrong, too. I mean, they made it seem like my whole motivation for building Facebook was so I could get girls, right? And they completely left out the fact that my girlfriend, I've been dating since before I started Facebook, right?"

"Wait, what? Say that again. The girl, your current girlfriend, you were dating back then?" Stahl asked.

"Yeah, I've been dating my current girlfriend…since before I created Facebook," he explained.

"You know, I've heard two reactions. One is about you very personally, and it's not so flattering. The other is that, 'Wow, he's a really great entrepreneur,'" Stahl said.

"I get two reactions, too," Zuckerberg said. "But they're actually a little bit different from the ones that you said. There's a set of people who, I think, have been following the Facebook story who, I think, had a deeper analysis of which things in the movie were true and which ones were false and all that.

Then the rest of people, I just think were pretty surprised and even amazed that, like, 'Wow, Facebook is an interesting enough thing to make a movie out of,' or 'This Mark Zuckerberg person, I never heard of him, like, this must be interesting.' And I can't tell you how many messages I've gotten from people who use Facebook writing in to say 'This movie was really inspiring to me. After seeing this movie, I want to start a company.' Or 'I want to go into computer science,' or 'I want to study math.' And if the movie had that affect on people, then awesome, right? I mean, that's great."

"You almost sound enthusiastic about this movie," Stahl remarked.

One part he doesn't like has to do with the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron.

In real life, they're Olympic rowers who claim that when they were at Harvard, they had the idea of a university based social networking site first. That in 2003 Zuckerberg agreed to work on their project, but instead, they say, he ripped them off.

"When we approached him, we had been working on the idea for almost a year at that point. We had a sophisticated code base. It wasn't an idea scribbled on a napkin. It was a very, sort of mature idea. And we brought him on to bring it to completion," Cameron Winklevoss told Stahl.

"We agreed to work on this project. He sabotaged our project; and he betrayed us," his brother Tyler added.

"There were other social networking sites already there. It isn't as if you had the first idea, right? You admit that?" Stahl asked.

"That's a typical argument that comes from Facebook that social networking existed at the time," Tyler Winklevoss said. "We weren't individuals on separate sides of the country developing social networks unbeknownst to each other. We were teammates. We were partners."

"So how did you actually find out that he was working on a different project?" Stahl asked.

"We found out by reading the Harvard student newspaper," Tyler Winklevoss recalled.

Asked what the article said, he told Stahl, "It said to the effect, Mark Zuckerberg launches the It described a bit about it. We turned to each other and we said, 'Isn't that the Mark Zuckerberg that's working with us on the same project?'"

So they sued, and in 2008 the case was settled out of court for a reported $65 million. But the twins have since appealed, arguing that Facebook misled them about the value of the stock in the settlement.

"Why are you pounding away at this when you're making so much money?" Stahl asked.

"This is all about principle," Tyler Winklevoss said.

"Well, I have to be honest with you, it doesn't look that way," Stahl remarked. "It looks like it's all about money."

"No, you will have, I'm not sure anybody can quite put themselves in our shoes and understand what it must've felt like to start an idea in 2002, to approach a fellow student in 2004, to have it stolen, sabotaged, ripped off," he replied.

Recently leaked instant messages, reportedly from Zuckerberg's old computer, suggest he did deliberately delay the twins' project.

"He premeditatedly sandbagged us because he knew getting there first was everything. There wasn't room for two social networks at Harvard and universities around the country," Tyler Winklevoss said.

"What do you say to people who say, 'Come on, give the guy a break. He was 19 years old,'?" Stahl asked.

"I know that when I was 19, I wouldn't have behaved that way. I would have, you know, certainly not betrayed fellow classmates," Cameron Winklevoss said.

When Stahl asked whether they had profiles on Facebook, the twins said yes.

"Let me ask you about the Winklevoss twins. They sued, you settled. They're still coming after you," Stahl said to Zuckerberg.

"You know, it's hard for me to fully wrap my head around where they're coming from on this. You know, early on, they had an idea that was completely separate from Facebook. And that, I mean, it was a dating site for Harvard. And I agreed to help them out with it, to help them. Right, I mean, it wasn't a job, they weren't paying me, I wasn't hired by them or anything like that. And then, the idea that I would then go work on something completely different, like Facebook, and that they would be upset about this all these years later is kinda mindboggling for me. Now, I mean, this is another thing that I think the movie really missed is, I mean, they make it seem like this whole lawsuit is such a huge part of Facebook's history. I've probably spent less than two weeks of my time worried about this lawsuit at all, right?" Zuckerberg replied.

"Maybe you should've worried about it a little more," Stahl remarked.

"Maybe I should have earlier on, right?" he replied. "But I guess the point that I'm trying to make is this has never been a big deal to Facebook or its evolution."

"Do you feel any, any remorse at all about the twins or anything that happened with them?" Stahl asked.

"I mean, after all this time, I feel bad that they still feel bad about it," Zuckerberg said.

Kara Swisher says she doesn't feel sorry for the twins. "I'm sorry. They got paid $65 million for one medium idea that they never could've made into anything," she said.

"Well, you sound very sympathetic to Mark as an individual, to me," Stahl said.

"In this case, yes, 'cause he is the entrepreneur. I think he definitely tried to screw with the Winklevoss [twins]. That's clear. He promised to do a service for them he didn't do. He did. But he also did build the business without their help," Swisher said.

Three years ago, Swisher coined the term "Toddler CEO," referring to Zuckerberg.

"And you told us that you thought he was inexperienced and way too young to run this company," Stahl remembered.

But three years later, Swisher said, "He's done a great job. He's a prodigy. The toddler's a prodigy, as it turns out."

"When I was here three years ago, they were calling you the Toddler CEO, and they don't say that any more at all. This is a tough question, but try: How would you grade yourself as a CEO, as the leader of this business?" Stahl asked.

"I mean, that is a hard question," Zuckerberg replied. "I also don't think you can ever win by answering that question. Now, we've made a huge number of mistakes along the way. Right, now I always say I just think we've made probably every possible mistake you could make."

"Is there a decision that you've made that the people around you told you was a mistake and you defied them and you were right?" Stahl asked.

"You know, the most famous one, I think, probably has to do with selling the company, right? I mean, in 2006…we had this opportunity to sell the company to Yahoo for a billion dollars. And we turned that down. I think a lot of people at the time thought we should sell the company," Zuckerberg said.

"But you know, I felt really strongly," he explained. "And I think now, people generally think that that was a good decision."

Since that decision, the company has grown considerably. Estimates are that if there were an initial public stock offering - an IPO - today, Facebook would be valued between $35-and $50 billion.

Asked if he is ever going to have the IPO, Zuckerberg said, "You know, maybe."

"It's like you can't let go," Stahl remarked.

"I don't think it's letting go. Here's the way that I think about it: a lot of people who I think build startups or companies think that selling the company or going public is this endpoint. Right, it's like you win when you go public. And that's just not how I see it," he said.

"You're 26 years old," Stahl said. "Feel old?"

"Yeah," Zuckerberg replied.

"Yeah, running this giant company. Your personal worth is said to be $6.9 billion. Do you ever just pinch yourself? Do you ever just say, 'Wow, this happened to me'?" Stahl asked.

Zuckerberg replied, "I mean, it is pretty crazy!"

"That part," he replied, laughing.

View Larger Map

Sources: CBS News, 60 Minutes, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google Maps

No comments: