Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook 'almost guaranteed' to reach 1 billion users
Russia, Japan, China and Japan only remaining countries where Facebook not leading social network says founder.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook's global dominance is almost complete with just Russia, Japan, China and
Japan yet to be converted and the social networking giant aiming to reach 1 billion users,
founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed today.
Zuckerberg, who said he had recently met Prime Minister David Cameron "for just a
minute [when] he was busy rolling out the budget", also admitted that one day he could
see Facebook floating on the stockmarket – just not anytime soon.
He added that there was "no chance" Facebook, which has cracked the 500 million user
mark, would hit 1 billion this year but argued that "it is almost a guarantee that it will
"If we succeed [in innovating and remaining relevant] there is a good chance of bringing
this to a billion people… it will be interesting to see how it plays out," he said speaking to
two packed auditoriums – one via video link – at the Cannes Lions International
Facebook's global domination is almost complete, he said. "We are down to just four
countries where we aren't the leading social network."
Zuckerberg added that in Russia Facebook had just 1 million users, the kind of numbers
that saw AOL sell off Bebo and ITV relinquish Friends Reunited. But in Facebook's case,
growth is "doubling every six months", according to Zuckerberg, and Japan and Korea
have similar user bases.
He said that Facebook can tell when an explosive growth "tipping point" is about to be
reached by who is "friending" who. When Facebook first launches in a country, nearly all
the friend connections are with foreign Facebook users.
"We know that a country has tipped when local-to-local connections outnumber local to
foreign," he added. "It is a long-term thing [and with regard to the four left to tip] we are
probably not going to win in six months, not in a year [but] things look promising in
three to five years out."
He also said that the company would make an initial public offering. "At some point,
sure," he said. "It is probably not that different [running a public company compared
with a privately held one]." However, after many sceptical guffaws in the Cannes
audience he backtracked and said: "OK, I'm sure it is a lot different."
Zuckerberg added that one of the issues was that he was in it with a long-term view,
which most investors are not if you go public, which he admitted was a "challenge".
He also addressed concerns over privacy, explaining that Facebook's meteoric growth
had meant the company had been caught out while it was in "transition". However, he
added that the changing face of how privacy is perceived now that users are in a digital
age meant that there were always going to be "natural tensions".
"Six years ago most people didn't want any information about themselves on web," he
said. "To start off people were a bit reticent about this. Then over time people think it is
great to be connected and share things. I think the world looks a lot different now. There
is a real natural tension between people seeing the value of sharing more stuff but
wanting control over what they share."
Zuckerberg added that as Facebook developed it built privacy controls for everything.
At one point there were more than 100 individual settings users could change, which it
had been important to simplify as the company had to "transition [and be] pretty quick
to adjust and evolve to 500 million users".