My good neighbor Facebook

A slow news day, but a few items caught my eye about Facebook, my new down-the-street, around-the-block neighbor.

Today’s Financial Times has a full-page news analysis piece on Facebook, “What friends are for,” by David Gelles (p. 7).

With its leadership as an online social network more secure, Mark Zuckerberg’s company aims to build both revenues and an enduring presence on other sites — no easy task, writes David Gelles.

The article identifies “Four big challenges for a site both social and global:”

Money It may be on track to bring in more than $500m . . .  in revenues this year but Facebook is projected to spend more. . . .
Competition  Other companies are racing to build their own services to bring social experiences to the web. . . .  A consortium including MySpace and Google has backed a service that allows users to carry their identities around the web with a single login.
Regulation Facebook is building one of the biggest databases of personal data on the web. It has so far steered clear of battles with regulators but as it expands around the globe that may change. An advisory board to the European Commission last month proposed stricter privacy settings for all social networks to ensure private information is not abused.
Execution Managing its own headlong growth, and adapting and expanding its service without alienating existing users, are Facebook’s most direct challenges. . . ..

About Facebook’s global reach:

Even as he reacts to new threats, Mr Zuckerberg is intent on extending his company’s reach and deepening its connections with its members. In this, at least, he has shown some remarkable results. Facebook’s user numbers are growing quickly – more than half have signed up in the past year. It is available in 50 languages and in just about every country in the world. Perhaps most importantly, Facebook users seem to be addicted. The site, it turns out, is “sticky”. More than 100m users log on to the site at least once a day.

The company is thinking globally but acting locally.  Their new world headquarters is two blocks from my house, and I pass by on frequent neighborhood strolls.  One thing I really like is how someone is always working, or so it seems.  There’s no 8 to 5 rush in and rush out.  When I stoll by at 8:00 p.m., I always see a slow but steady exodus of people, many on bicycles. 

The San Jose Mercury News recently ran a front-page story about Facebook’s new headquarters, “Facebook grows into new home in Palo Alto’s power neighborhood,” by Will Oremus, which includes this information:

Whistling between workstations are Facebookers on skateboard-like gadgets called RipStiks. The workforce, 700 strong in Palo Alto and about 900 worldwide, remains dominated by contemporaries of 25-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Their exuberance appears to have survived the move.

It’s not all bicycles and RipStiks.  There are a lot of cars and they spill out onto the street and fill an auxilary parking lot that is about 6 or 7 blocks away.  A shuttle bus runs from the company to the auxilary lot, but every single time I’ve seen this shuttle it has been empty of passengers (maybe the rainy season will be different). 

The ever-popular Legal Scholarship Network apparently sees opportunity in Facebook too.  From Gregg Gordon’s (President, Social Science Research Network) 2009 Mid-Year President’s Letter:

In April, we started the SSRNblog (http://ssrnblog.com). As we have grown, we realized that not everyone knows our history or has access to news about the latest updates or changes to the website. The SSRNblog comes as a natural outcome of our desire to share information and keep the SSRN Community up to date. Hopefully, it will also enhance our already great connections with our users.

The SSRN Blog will not be a broadcast vehicle. We want to engage you in an ongoing conversation. Readers will get updates regarding SSRN’s eLibrary and services, weekly “Top Five” lists, and announcements of new networks, conferences, and presentations. Our posts will also explore and share our perspective on issues such as Open Access, new publishing models and directions for scholarly research, and the technologies that affect us all.

One of these technologies is social networking. Social networking allows people to connect in real time regardless of geography, or to access information no matter where it is stored. We see a plethora of opportunities for the SSRN Community to use these tools. As a first step, we have joined Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and are posting updates, announcements, and other items to them regularly. Here is how to find us:

Twitter:
http://twitter.com/SSRN

Facebook:
http://www.facebook..com/pages/Rochester-NY/SSRN/36086731835

LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=40866

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