Sheryl Sandberg is an SF .com veteran. She was in London this week, speaking at the LSE’s Polis lecture series.
One of Google’s first 250 employees, and and now number two to Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook she made a decent-enough case to suggest that her career is mirroring the way the web is changing, before getting a bit shmaltzy for my liking… Anyway, to sum up the thread of her talk:
The internet used to be all about finding information. It was the information web. But it was largely anonymous.
But now, it’s all about real identity and personalisation. It’s the social web. We’ve moved from information retrieval to social discovery.
She’s right, and that’s exactly why Facebook is in the ascendancy at the moment.
Microsoft grew by helping the world access the internet.
Google grew by helping the world find things on the internet.
Facebook grew by helping people maintain and develop real-world relationships on the internet.
And Facebook is growing phenomenally fast, as we all know.
She said that the average UK user spends 7 hours per month on Facebook.
15 million people friend each other every day
50 million people like a page each day [not 150 million as Brand Republic originally reported]
Now I’m wary of Facebook. The privacy settings are a nightmare. And if a Western Government had access to as much data about what we all like/think/say/do there’d be outcry. But because Zuck is (currently) a relatively benign dictator, no one really seems to bat an eyelid.
But when businesses start to see staff using Facebook as a communications channel to share commercial information (it is better than email for that, so it’s only a matter of time), I’m sure there will be a backlash. I might even be kicking it off.
It was an interesting session. Nothing new. She’s a very competent public speaker, safe handler of media questions (particularly about the smearing issue), and probably the closest I’ll get to an almost-billionaire I’ll get for a while.