Most startups strive to obtain a few million users. The really successful ones get tens or hundreds of millions of users.
But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t think any product is a truly compelling business until it hits 1 billion users. It took Facebook eight years to become that big.
The number of products that reach 1 billion users can probably be counted on one hand (Google, Facebook …). But over the next five years, Zuckerberg says he believes multiple Facebook products will reach that kind of mass scale. WhatsApp, which Facebook recently acquired for $US22 billion, already has 600 million monthly active users.
Zuckerberg thinks Search, Newsfeed, Groups, Instagram, and WhatsApp all have the potential to connect 1 billion+ people individually, and it’s his near-term mission to make sure that happens.
“This may sound a little ridiculous to say, but for us, products don’t really get that interesting to turn into businesses until they have about 1 billion people using them,” Zuckerberg said Tuesday during Facebook’s third-quarter earnings call. He said News Feed already reaches 1 billion people, and that’s why Facebook is focused on making content there better, and its ad products stronger.
“Over a five-year time frame, we have a number of services, which we think are well on their way to reaching 1 billion people,” he said. “Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Search are a number of them. And once we get to that scale, then we think that they will start to become meaningful businesses in their own right. And I think that the right way to think about that, as I’ve tried to say repeatedly on these calls is, not that we’re going to try to monetise them very aggressively in the next year or two, because I really think for each of those categories, the right strategy is to first focus on connecting 1 billion-plus people and reaching the full potential before very aggressively turning them into businesses.
“But I do think that this is such a big opportunity ahead of us. I can’t think of that many other companies or products that have multiple lines of products that are on track to reach and connect 1 billion that have a clear path of how we can turn them into a business. So that will be a very fun and exciting challenge to work on over the next five years.”