Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges That Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World
Secrets of Facebook’s Hard-Fought Rise To Prominence – How The Giant Learned From Crises Averted & Challenges Won
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What business lessons can you learn from the billion dollar, world disrupting empire known as Facebook?
Its success was far from accidental.
You can’t create a $300 billion company by accident in between classes.
A powerful vehicle for connecting the world, Facebook is unquestionably a game-changing company, but its success was never guaranteed. Its unprecedented rise depended on vision and conviction.
Most of us know the origin story of Facebook.
A Harvard student and programming prodigy, Mark Zuckerberg, created a social networking site for his fellow students at thefacebook.com.
The site would have more than 1,000 students in one day and half of the undergraduate population in a month.
The site grew like wildfire beyond its humble beginnings to other schools and high schools.
In 2006, it was opened to the general public and Mark Zuckerberg never looked back. The little idea he started with some roommates would become a billion dollar empire with its public IPO announcement in 2012.
Not bad for a business that launched as the idea of a group of college students in 2004.
So, Why Read Becoming Facebook?
The majority of small business owners are invested in Facebook, either because they have a personal or business account — or both.
Even if you have no plans for an account, you can’t fail to be impressed with its awe inspiring origin story or the technological innovations of a company like Facebook.
Becoming Facebook offers a peek into the mindset behind it all: the bold mission, the unchartered territory, the public flops, and the global collection of people who work every day to allow other people to share themselves with the world.
It is a powerful story, especially if you are a tech geek. If you ever wanted to see how Facebook operates and how its leaders think, so you can apply some of that mindset to your workplace, this book might be for you.
Facebook’s founding is legend: In a Harvard dorm, wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg invented a new way to connect with friends…and the rest is history.
For many of its more than 1 billion daily users, life before Facebook seems unimaginable.
The personalized News Feed is the first thing people check in the morning, and the lens through which they experience their day, tapping media reports, updates from friends, videos, celebrity musings, ads, and offers from local businesses.
But for the people who actually molded this great idea into a game-changing $300 billion company, the experience was far more tumultuous and uncertain than we might expect.
You may think you know the legendary story behind the beginning of Facebook by wunderkind Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg.
But those who were actually there on the inside molding this social media idea into a game-changing, Goliath-sized company know the experience was far more tumultuous and uncertain than one might expect.
When Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard buddies created a social networking tool for college students, the experiment could have ended there.
When Google attacked with its own social media platform, Facebook could have buckled.
When Facebook’s IPO flopped in 2012, the company could have faded into obscurity.
At each juncture, Zuckerberg and his team overcame obstacles and remade the company to be stronger, more durable, and more essential to people’s lives.
This is the story of Facebook’s hard-fought rise to prominence, told by an insider who played a key role through years of fierce competition, stumbles, and reinventions.
Silicon Valley veteran Mike Hoefflinger worked alongside COO Sheryl Sandberg as an engineer turned marketing innovator. He relives the experience, identifying ten business challenges and lessons learned, including:
◆ How Zuckerberg knew that Yahoo’s $1 billion acquisition offer in 2006 was undervalued, though Facebook was still just a $20 million annual revenue company
◆ How Facebook turned around its troubled News Feed and created an indispensable tool for people’s daily lives
◆ What resulted when Facebook centered every aspect of business around its North Star Metric—engaged users
◆ Why the introduction of advertising into the News Feed created a democratizing element and lifted the company’s value to the stratosphere
◆ How smartphones catapulted Facebook into an era of infrastructure building, including software, hardware, networking, buildings, and energy
◆ How a “disrupt yourself” ethos propelled Facebook to buy Instagram and WhatsApp, steeling the company to withstand competition
Becoming Facebook goes into the Menlo Park meeting rooms and coffee shops to profile its visionaries, tech gurus, and business mavens, including Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, People Vice President Lori Goler, and Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, as well as Sandberg and Zuckerberg.
Both a coming-of-age story and hard-hitting case study, Becoming Facebook looks back at the people, products, business decisions, and technology jumps that propelled Facebook to greatness, and offers glimpses at where the company will go in the future as it works to connect the world.
Mike Hoefflinger has 25 years’ experience in Silicon Valley. After working directly for Andy Grove and as general manager of the Intel Inside program, he moved to Facebook in 2009 to serve as Head of Global Business Marketing.
During his nearly seven years with the social network, he helped dramatically grow its advertising business.
He is now a Silicon Valley–based entrepreneur-in-residence at XSeed Capital.
As a computer engineer turned marketing innovator who worked with COO Sheryl Sandberg, Mike Hoefflinger had a front-row seat to the company’s growing pains, stumbles, and reinventions.
Mike Hoefflinger was one of those Facebook insiders.
As a computer engineer turned marketing innovator who worked with COO Sheryl Sandberg, Hoefflinger had a front-row seat to the company’s growing pains, stumbles, and reinventions.
In Becoming Facebook, he shares the challenges faced and lessons learned during the coming-of-age times of the übercompany.
Becoming Facebook tells the coming-of-age story of the now venerable giant.
Filled with insights and anecdotes from crises averted and challenges solved, the book tracks the company’s development, uncovering lessons learned on its way to greatness.
Discover from an insider:
● How Facebook recovered from its “disastrous” IPO
● How the growth team achieved the impossible
● Why Facebook’s newsfeed ads were the company’s most important business decision ever
● How Google+ attacked and lost
● Why and how Instagram and WhatsApp were added
● What the company does to win the talent wars
● What makes Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Cox, and other A-teamers tick
● Which products and technical advancements are on the horizon and why
● And much more!
Becoming Facebook tells the coming-of-age story of the now venerable giant.
Intimate, fast-paced, and deeply informative, Becoming Facebook shares the true story of how Zuckerberg joined the ranks of iconic CEOs like Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos—as Facebook grows up, overcomes setbacks, and works to connect the world.
Follow the social media giant from its almost mythical birth all the way to the overwhelming success it has been solidified in today, uncovering the lessons its leaders learned while overcoming setbacks and achieving greatness.
Becoming Facebook tells the same story from an insider’s perspective.
The book follows Facebook’s growing pain as it transitioned from a cool site for university students into a billion-dollar business empire.
In the beginning, Facebook faced many of the same issues as every other business does when starting out. These included:
☞ balancing user experience with content,
☞ maintaining the infrastructure to keep current and future customers happy,
☞ fending off competition,
☞ dealing with national and international regulation,
☞ finding and keeping talent, and
☞ planning for an uncertain future.
Becoming Facebook shares how Facebook navigated (and in some cases failed) in meeting these challenges, but always persisted on in its world disrupting mission of making the world more connected and open.
By adopting and staying focused on such a bold mission, the book insists, Facebook has been able to achieve technological marvels like sharing, collecting and categorizing over a billion posts per day.
This world changing mission, however, doesn’t exempt Facebook from possible disruption.
Just like any other business, it must continue to adapt and thrive.
This combination of world changing mission and innovative tenacity is the secret sauce other businesses can take from Facebook’s story to apply to their own operations.
Review From Soundview :
It’s easy to forget that the juggernaut now known as Facebook started just 13 years ago in a Harvard dorm room, where an undergraduate named Mark Zuckerberg set up a system that digitally connected Harvard students to each other.
Today, its influence spans the globe through its nearly 2 billion monthly users.
Given the outsized influence that Facebook plays in society today, it would be easy for an insider to write a hagiography of the company.
To author Mike Hoefflinger’s credit, his book, Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges That Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World, is neither hagiography nor tell-all. It is a well-written, well-organized how-to book that pulls valuable lessons from the company’s short but consequential history.
The Three Metrics
One chapter, for example, dissects how a social network connecting the students of a single university grew into a global behemoth in little more than a decade.
At first, the growth of the new company was meteoric, from its founding in early 2004 to 50 million users by the end of 2007 (after expanding in 2006 from university and high school students to everyone in 2006).
At 50 million users, however, the company hit a wall, and it seemed possible that Facebook had reached its peak, even though it still lagged behind market leader MySpace.
To jumpstart Facebook’s growth, a core team of strategists focused on three metrics that they labeled the North Star Metric, Magic Moment and Core Product Value.
To avoid people chasing too many goals, Facebook “decided on a single metric that would be the subject of all their growth attention,” Hoefflinger writes.
This “North Star Metric” would be engagement — which would not just measure people who signed up, but people who actually found enough value to use Facebook on a regular basis.
The exact calculation of engagement would evolve over the years, but the goal remained the same: getting people to be active on Facebook.
According Hoefflinger, the team understood that for people to be active users, they needed to reach what the strategists called the “Magic Moment” — the moment that people are hooked on a product — as quickly as possible.
On Facebook, the Magic Moment is reached when users find a large and growing number of friends on their news feed.
Facebook’s successful negotiations allowing Facebook users to import their contacts from services such as Yahoo and Gmail was key to helping new users build up their Facebook friends effortlessly.
“After getting people hooked via your Magic Moment, you have to deliver the day-in-and-day-out value that earns loyalty from your users,” Hoefflinger writes.
This is where “Core Product Value” comes in. One example was the crowd-sourced-driven translations into 16 languages that transformed Facebook from an English-language “exogenous” platform that attracted internationally minded users in other countries to a local “endogenous” platform that attracted primarily native speakers.
“In country after country, when that crossover from exogenous to endogenous connections came, Facebook user growth would kick into a new and sustained gear,” explains Hoefflinger.
Each chapter in the book begins with a clearly stated lesson, such as “Employee engagement is everything: Fit to people’s strengths and ignore weaknesses,” “Speed is a feature,” and “Everybody wins if you democratize something for customers of all sizes.”
In each chapter, Hoefflinger covers the topic in detail, bolstering his pragmatic how-to’s with specific Facebook strategies and events, as exemplified in the growth chapter described above (its lesson was, simply, “Know your North Star Metric, Magic Moment and Core Product Value”).
Although not the first business author to write a How-to-Succeed book based on the story of one company, Hoefflinger is effective, in the 10 core chapters, in putting lessons first, and the company history in a supporting role.
In some ways, Becoming Facebook is not only about how Zuckerberg’s company became Facebook, but how, perhaps, your company can also strive to become a Facebook itself.
About the Author
Michael Hoefflinger has 25 years’ experience in Silicon Valley. After working directly for Andy Grove as general manager of the Intel Inside program, he moved to Facebook in 2009 to serve as Lead, Global Business Marketing. During his seven years with the social network, he helped grow their advertising business dramatically. He is now an entrepreneur-in-residence at XSeed Capital.
◆ Setting the Scene.
1: The Bell Tolls: Half the Company It Used to Be.
2: Finding Your Inner Zuck: Everything at Facebook Starts with Mark Zuckerberg, but It Doesn’t End There.
– 10 Challenges on the Road from Also-Ran to Juggernaut.
3: How Facebook Turned Down $1 Billion.
4: How Facebook Became Your Lens on the World.
5: How Facebook Grows … and Grows.
6: How Facebook Built a $10 Billion Business in Three Years.
7: How Facebook Goes Fast.
8: How Facebook Beat Google.
9: How Facebook Became More Than Facebook.
10: How Facebook Plays the Long Game.
11: How Facebook Wins the Talent Wars.
12: How Facebook Became the Biggest of the Big.
◆ The Future.
13: Messaging Becomes the Medium: Two More Giant Apps and an Artificial Intelligence Based on Trillions of Pieces of Data.
14: Connecting the Next Billion People: The Most Questionable Business Decision for the Best Reasons.
15: “Transporting” a Billion of Us with VR and AR: Building the Last Screen.
16: What If Facebook “Wins”? Reknitting the Pangea of the Mind.
17: Failure Isn’t: Facebook Doesn’t Always Hit It Out of the Park, and That’s a Good Thing.
18: Nothing Lasts Forever? No Technology Company Is Immune to Disruption.