I was really impressed by the cover story on the March issue of FastCompany (find it at your Barnes & Noble – I did). The story, written by FastCompany staff writer Ellen McGirt, starts on page 54. My respect for Facebook has grown over the past two years by a lot, but with this article, it’s spiked. (I’m still not using it for business, but I’m getting there. I enjoy it for personal use so much that I’m afraid it’ll feel like work, and I don’t want that – but I’m digressing). I have so much admiration for the brilliance Facebook’s team continues to demonstrate, in both business development strategy and technological innovation.
Basically, the story simply highlights what we already know – Facebook has really come a long way from the simple, collegiate-only app that let people connect by simply writing on each other’s walls (that’s about the extent of the functionality when it first came out), to simply the best way to connect online – to anyone – friend, family, target market, etc.
In short, these guys champion the idea that something – anything – can be done better. They aren’t lemmings, by any means. In the article, it appears that no one there is simply going with the flow or following the guy in front. Everyone wants to be the guy in front.
They adopt a policy of continual improvement on each other’s work, prioritizing improvement over personal ownership, so that the end result is actually good and not just someone’s baby. Maybe it’s the constant addition of new team members tasked with one-upping the old-timers, or maybe it’s the fact that at Facebook, you’re overlooked if you don’t come up with new ideas. Either way, it’s working.
The story also mentions some really interesting insider details about Facebook company culture – including all night hack fests where even the lawyers show up, and a recent team trip to India to see two long-time and beloved staff members get married (to each other).
- What some of you business folks might not know is that Facebook was initially launched for college students only. In fact, you couldn’t sign up unless you had a .edu address. I didn’t really hear about Facebook until just after I had graduated college. I remember this limitation being incredibly frustrating for me, since I couldn’t remember my college email address, so I was left out in the cold! 🙂
- Facebook added 200 million users last year alone. So that got me thinking, what exactly happened? It’s obviously the business users (well, and maybe the fact that my entire extended family, including my grandfather, joined Facebook). There was no dramatic change in the student population in 2009. But there was a huge shift in business users connecting on Facebook. I’m curious, what’s the ratio of non-college students to college-students now? It’s gotta be at least 2 to 1.
- Facebook has 1200 employees, with a developer to user ratio of 1 to 1,000,000, which is really phenomenal.
- Best quote: “So many businesses just get so worried about looking like they might make a mistake that they get afraid to take any risks.” – Zuckerberg