The man who helped to developed Facebook’s video capabilities back in the early days says the social media giant is set to become “the largest media company on the planet”.
Chris Adams, with experience in writing, entertainment and digital media under his belt, started consulting at Facebook in 2006, joining his friend Matt Cohler – one of Facebook’s first five employees. The social network was not open to the general public then and had only 6 million users – compared to 1.86 billion users at the end of last year.
Adams has since left the company and eventually moved to Queensland with his Australian wife. But as a keen observer of Facebook, and with experience in both the entertainment and tech worlds, he’s convinced a change from a networking medium to a media giant is imminent.
“With that big a size of audience, at some point, it kind of makes sense to me that it would become a media company,” he told Business Insider.
“This is my speculation. But when you have that large an audience and they’re so connected, you can see from things like Facebook Live and a lot of the moves that they’re making… they could easily become the largest media company on the planet.”
During his tenure, Adams was commissioned to help founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg develop video content, with the social network opening up to the general public in late 2006. Specifically, he created a show named Facebook Diaries.
Zuckerberg had just one request for Adams back then, which he believes is still telling for the moves it might make now when it heads into long-form video content and takes on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
“Mark [Zuckerberg] said ‘I want it to be Facebook-y’. That was his brief,” said Adams. “I went away and thought the power of Facebook is its audience, so our show [Facebook Diaries] was soliciting answers to questions that were very esoteric.”
In a similar way, Adams suspects simply acquiring a movie studio and streaming entertainment onto its site would not produce a distinctive enough product for Facebook.
“If they did something standard like just buying a giant media company and said ‘hey, we’ve got 1.8 billion people, we’re now streaming Iron Man’, it would work — but is it Facebook-y enough?”
Facebook declined to comment to Business Insider.
Adams now sits on the board of Thred, an Australian startup he thinks could be one of many companies that could fill the messaging and networking gap that Facebook would leave behind if it pivots to entertainment.
The ASX-listed company has developed an app, due to launch this week, to aggregate messaging, mail, shopping, content and service apps into one integrated platform. It’s catchcry is “connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime, regardless of which social, mail or business app they use”.
“The problem is that we talk to some people on one app and some on another — and some this and some that way. And that just seems crazy,” he said. “But everyone does it because that’s the way the web grew up.”
Adams is a director and was interim chief executive for six months until earlier this year while it sought a permanent appointee. The app received approval on Google Play and Apple App Store just last week and is scheduled for a production launch on the week starting May 8.
Thred is designed to be the “one app for all”, which Adams said is also the philosophy Zuckerberg lived by while growing Facebook.
“We want to be [Microsoft] Outlook for your life,” Adams recalled Zuckerberg saying. “Always on and it’s the first thing you check. That’s what it is. When’s the last time you signed out of Facebook?”