If you’ve had a nagging suspicion that Mark Zuckerberg really doesn’t know how he’ll turn Facebook into a business, wonder no more. You’re right. Here he is talking to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
What every great internet company has done is to figure out a way to make money that has to match to what they are doing on the site. I don’t think social networks can be monetized in the same way that search did. But on both sites people find information valuable. I’m pretty sure that we will find an analogous business model. But we are experimenting already. One group is very focused on targeting; another part is focused on social recommendation from your friends. In three years from now we have to figure out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today.
If you’re counting, three years from now would be nearly 7 years since Mark (and others) started Facebook at Harvard, and four years since Microsoft plowed $240 million into the company.
We know the retort here: What about Google? They didn’t figure out money for years, and look at them now! And we think that’s a reasonable answer — if you really think Facebook will end up as a Google-sized business. But if Facebook ends up being something less than that — say, a big and popular Website, but not a world-changing business that throws off billions a dollars a year and disrupts multiple industries — then Mark’s backers may end up wondering why they didn’t push him to figure that sooner than later.
We do wonder a tiny bit about translation issues here — in parts of the Q&A, Mark sounds a little Col. Klink-like — so we’re hoping people get a chance to go over this with him again tomorrow at the Future of Web Apps conference in London. In the meantime, though, take some time to read the German paper’s interview with him, which from what we can tell is one of the more informative Q&As he’s done. A few more highlights:
FAZ: Can you please describe your cooperation with Sheryl Sandberg?
Mark Zuckerberg: She is an excellent manager. She is very good in building our international organisation. I’m focused on the direction of the company, especially of the product development, and the overall strategy. I spend a lot of time working with engineers and product developers. We work together hand in hand.
FAZ: Who is the boss?
Mark Zuckerberg: Me!