Facebook is Blowing it With Its Mobile Advertisements

Andrew Leonard pens a very good rant on the annoying, intrusive ads Facebook is delivering to users of the mobile version of the app:

And now she’s in my phone. And guess what? In Facebook’s mobile app, there is no option to hide all sponsored ads from a particular advertiser. Your only choice is the basic option you have with any kind of post — you can mark it as spam. Supposedly, reporting posts as spam will decrease the likelihood that you see them, but I’m afraid I’ve seen zero positive change in the frequency or content of Facebook’s sponsored story ads, despite what Facebook claims. Instead I am getting more of the ads I don’t want on my phone, after years of telling Facebook I don’t like exactly those types of ads. This is not an encouraging trend line.

By the time the first trickle of caffeine had woken up my synapses, I realized that I was done. I had reached my tipping point. I no longer want to check Facebook on my phone.

Does Facebook really think so little of me? Am I not man enough to seek my own romantic path without Facebook’s help?

And the money quote:

I’m sorry, Mark Zuckerberg, but my iPhone screen is just not big enough for those breasts.

As a user of the app on my iPhone, I’ve noticed these annoying ads as well. I haven’t quite reached the tipping point of quitting the service, but I am irked enough to highlight others’ reactions to it and am not surprised with Mr. Leonard’s decision.

The Hoodie Phenomenon

Tim Maly, in a thoughtful essay titled “Mark Zuckerberg’s Hoodie,” ponders the role of privacy and social behavior as the hoodie has gone mainstream:

People who know they’re being watched change their behaviour. In a world awash in surveillance devices, hoodies are an element of fashion driven by an architectural condition. They are a response to the constant presence of cameras overhead. People who don’t want to be watched wear them. People who want to be the kind of people who don’t want to be watched wear them. People who want to look like the kind of people who don’t want to be watched wear them.

Through a series of vignettes, Maly brings us from 2005 to present day:

It is January 13, 2013 and Mark Zuckerberg is promising a revolution. He’s on stage, wearing his hoodie. He seems comfortable. His colleague Tom Stocky is trying to help a hypothetical girl find a date. He runs a query and gets a list of men who are friends of friends and single. It’s a veritable cornucopia of potential men. He narrows them down to people in San Francisco. Then down to people in San Francisco who are from India. His hypothetical woman is sure to be pleased.

Just don’t wear that hoodie to a first date, you know?

Mark Zuckerberg Visits Russia, Avoids Wearing Hoodie

The New York Times details Mark Zuckerberg’s recent trip to Russia, where he met Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev. The big story here is that Zuckerberg didn’t wear his hoodie and instead looked professional in a suit and tie…

But on a more interesting note, this paragraph intrigued me:

More Russians are online today than Germans, making Russia the largest Internet market in Europe. Russians also, strangely, have spent more freely relative to their income than Americans on virtual products, like special powers for online games, making their country a useful market for testing revenue streams other than advertising.

I don’t have a guess as to why virtual products are so popular in Russia.

On another note, check out the bottom of the article for a hilarious correction:

An earlier version of this article misstated the surname of Mark Zuckerberg as Zuckerman at one point.

Zuckerberg’s Freshman Roommate: An Olympian

Bloomberg has a good story on Samyr Laine, a roommate of Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard (in the now famous room D11). Laine will compete in the triple jump at the London Olympics for Haiti, the country of his parents’ birth.

Remembers Laine:

We had a good time our freshman year in Straus, we played a ton of PlayStation. We probably didn’t sleep nearly as much as we should have. None of us slept as little as Mark did, and now you can see why.

Laine, 27, holds Harvard records for the triple jump, both indoors at 51 feet, 11 1/4 inches (15.83 meters) and outdoors at 53 feet, 7 1/2 inches, which compare with the world outdoor record of 60 feet, 1/4 inch by Britain’s Jonathan Edwards in 1995.

This was my favorite tidbit from the story:

Laine still laughs at an incident from freshman year. He remembers Zuckerberg running out of their dorm room after oversleeping and missing the first hour of a computer science final exam, only to get the highest mark in the class.

“The mastery he had of computer science, even as a freshman, it was almost comical,” Laine said. “We would often try to see how fast he could hack into our computers.”

Full story here.

The Decline of the Public Company

As Facebook debuts its IPO today, a good reminder at The Economist on the decline of the public company:

The number of public companies has fallen dramatically over the past decade—by 38% in America since 1997 and 48% in Britain. The number of initial public offerings (IPOs) in America has declined from an average of 311 a year in 1980-2000 to 99 a year in 2001-11. Small companies, those with annual sales of less than $50m before their IPOs—have been hardest hit. In 1980-2000 an average of 165 small companies undertook IPOs in America each year. In 2001-09 that number fell to 30. Facebook will probably give the IPO market a temporary boost—several other companies are queuing up to follow its lead—but they will do little to offset the long-term decline.

So why is Facebook going public, anyway? It’s not like it needs to raise the cash.

Mark Zuckerberg has resisted going public for as long as he could, not least because so many heads of listed companies advised him to. He is taking the plunge only because American law requires any firm with more than a certain number of shareholders to publish quarterly accounts just as if it were listed.


Bloomberg Billionaires Index

With Facebook set to IPO on May 18, with the share price set in the $28 to $35 range, Bloomberg has now updated its Billionaire List to reflect Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth at $17.6 billion.

It’s kind of ridiculous, but this billionaire index is updated daily. For instance, here are today’s top 40 wealthiest people according to Bloomberg:

1. Carlos Slim Helu $ 75.0 billion MEX $ 65.5 M 21.7
2. William “Bill” Henry Gates III $ 63.2 billion USA – $ 394.8 M 12.7
3. Warren E. Buffett $ 45.4 billion USA $ 12.2 M 6.1
4. Ingvar Kamprad $ 42.5 billion SWE – $ 570.0 M 14.6
5. Bernard Arnault $ 42.2 billion FRA $ 234.2 M 19.6
6. Amancio Ortega Gaona $ 38.3 billion SPN $ 716.3 M 9.8
7. Lawrence “Larry” Joseph Ellison $ 37.2 billion USA – $ 377.0 M 12.8
8. Charles De Ganahl Koch $ 35.5 billion USA $ 119.7 M 5.7
9. David Hamilton Koch $ 35.5 billion USA $ 119.7 M 5.7
10. Eike Fuhrken Batista $ 31.7 billion BRA – $ 84.6 M 40.8
11. Sheldon Gary Adelson $ 25.0 billion USA – $ 576.9 M 26.6
12. Christy R. Walton $ 24.7 billion USA – $ 35.2 M – 1.3
13. Li Ka-Shing $ 24.6 billion CHN – $ 169.1 M 11.0
14. Stefan Persson $ 24.0 billion SWE $ 379.8 M 10.2
15. Liliane Bettencourt $ 23.8 billion FRA $ 53.2 M 17.7
16. Jim C. Walton $ 23.4 billion USA – $ 6.9 M 0.1
17. David K.R. Thomson $ 23.2 billion CAN – $ 157.2 M 8.5
18. Samuel “Rob” Robson Walton $ 23.0 billion USA – $ 6.8 M 0.2
19. Michele Ferrero $ 22.6 billion ITA – $ 111.3 M 7.4
20. Alice L. Walton $ 22.4 billion USA – $ 6.9 M – 0.2
21. Karl Albrecht $ 22.0 billion GER $ 466.9 M – 1.6
22. George Soros $ 22.0 billion USA – $ 13.6 M 3.7
23. Mukesh D. Ambani $ 21.8 billion IND – $ 444.7 M 1.9
24. Jeffrey “Jeff” Bezos $ 21.4 billion USA – $ 95.4 M 30.5
25. Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud $ 20.5 billion SAU 0 18.2
26. Lee Shau Kee $ 19.5 billion CHN – $ 20.3 M 13.0
27. Alisher Usmanov $ 19.3 billion RUS $ 38.4 M 10.8
28. Cheng Yu Tung $ 19.1 billion CHN $ 87.6 M – 4.9
29. Lawrence “Larry” E. Page $ 18.9 billion USA $ 73.3 M – 3.9
30. Sergey Brin $ 18.8 billion USA $ 71.7 M – 3.8
31. Georgina “Gina” Hope Rinehart $ 18.7 billion AUS – $ 144.8 M – 7.5
32. Alberto Bailleres Gonzalez $ 18.6 billion MEX – $ 212.2 M 7.9
33. Rinat Akhmetov $ 18.1 billion UKR – $ 72.1 M 25.8
34. Lakshmi N. Mittal $ 18.0 billion IND – $ 227.7 M – 14.7
35. Iris Fontbona $ 17.7 billion CHL – $ 538.1 M 0.7
36. Mark Elliot Zuckerberg $ 17.6 billion USA – $ 2,900.0 M – 2.2
37. Azim Premji $ 16.3 billion IND $ 97.0 M 1.5
38. Jorge Paulo Lemann $ 15.8 billion BRA $ 20.8 M 28.8
39. Vladimir Lisin $ 15.8 billion RUS – $ 231.7 M 6.3
40. Steve Ballmer $ 15.4 billion USA – $ 38.3 M 17.5

Mark Zuckerberg is number 36 on the list, well ahead of Steve Ballmer.

On another note: this is a good article to read about the Facebook IPO.

World’s Richest People, Adjusted for Age

The most recent tally of the world’s wealthiest people by Forbes magazine put the Facebook founder’s net worth at $13.5 billion in 2011, ranking him 52nd in the world. But Zuckerberg’s 28.4% stake in Facebook could see his fortune rise to as much as $28.4 billion, assuming that Facebook’s valuation is $100 billion.

The telling chart below profiles the world’s richest people in age-adjusted terms (per age capita). At 27, Zuckerberg is number one on this list, with over $1B of wealth per each year of his life. In the top 100 richest people in the world, only the co-founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, are also under 40.

(Source: The Economist)

The Other Zuckerberg

The New York Times has a brief profile of Randi Zuckerberg, Mark Zuckerberg’s creative and rebellious older sister:

In August, Ms. Zuckerberg, 29, quit her job at Facebook, where she had been among the first two dozen people hired. Most recently, she was the director of marketing. In its early days, Ms. Zuckerberg was a buoyant presence, representing her reticent brother to an eager press. Later, she earned attention (not always favorable) singing at company functions with a band composed of colleagues. And she came up with the idea for Facebook Live, the social network’s video channel, which has featured interviews conducted by Facebook executives with Oprah Winfrey and President Obama.

So is Randi on Facebook and Twitter, then?

Now Ms. Zuckerberg has started her own business, R to Z Media, to help companies take advantage of social media.

Mark and Randi discussing Randi’s compensation package, right before she started working at Facebook:

On her last night there she joined her brother in his office to negotiate her signing package. Mr. Zuckerberg, then 21, sat behind a desk and slipped her a piece of paper with two lines: one with her salary; another with the number of stock options she would receive. She crossed out the stock options, doubled the salary and slid it back. “He took the pen back from me and rewrote the original offer he proposed,” she said. “And, he’s like: ‘Trust me. You don’t want what you think you want.’ ”

Not to miss: a profile of Mark Zuckerberg, published last year.

The Face of Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg, Revealed

If you’re reading this post, then chances are you’re probably on Facebook. Or at least have heard of it.

The latest piece in The New Yorker, “The Face of Facebook,” offers an intimate, revealing look into the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. It’s definitely a piece worth reading, not least because it goes on to show how Zuckerberg has changed since his younger days at Harvard. I highlight some passages which I found interesting below.

With whom is Mark friends with on Facebook? And what are Zuckerberg’s favorite artists? (More about his favorites in a moment).

According to his Facebook profile, Zuckerberg has three sisters (Randi, Donna, and Arielle), all of whom he’s friends with. He’s friends with his parents, Karen and Edward Zuckerberg. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and attended Harvard University. He’s a fan of the comedian Andy Samberg and counts among his favorite musicians Green Day, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, and Shakira.
I like this description of Mark provided by his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, who met Mark at Harvard party:
He was this nerdy guy who was just a little bit out there. I remember he had these beer glasses that said ‘pound include beer dot H.’ It’s a tag for C++. It’s like college humor but with a nerdy, computer-science appeal.
On the inevitability of Zuckerberg becoming a billionaire:
If and when Facebook decides to go public, Zuckerberg will become one of the richest men on the planet, and one of the youngest billionaires. In the October issue of Vanity Fair, Zuckerberg is named No. 1 in the magazine’s power ranking of the New Establishment, just ahead of Steve Jobs, the leadership of Google, and Rupert Murdoch. The magazine declared him “our new Caesar.”
On Zuckerberg’s mannerisms:
When he’s not interested in what someone is talking about, he’ll just look away and say, “Yeah, yeah.” Sometimes he pauses so long before he answers it’s as if he were ignoring the question altogether. The typical complaint about Zuckerberg is that he’s “a robot.” One of his closest friends told me, “He’s been overprogrammed.” Indeed, he sometimes talks like an Instant Message—brusque, flat as a dial tone—and he can come off as flip and condescending, as if he always knew something that you didn’t.

There are revealing and embarrassing instant messages that Zuckerberg sent regarding Facebook when he was still at Harvard. Zuckerberg seems apologetic, regretful:

When I asked Zuckerberg about the IMs that have already been published online, and that I have also obtained and confirmed, he said that he “absolutely” regretted them. “If you’re going to go on to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, then you need to be mature, right?” he said. “I think I’ve grown and learned a lot.”
What is Zuckerberg’s ultimate goal?
Zuckerberg’s ultimate goal is to create, and dominate, a different kind of Internet. Google and other search engines may index the Web, but, he says, “most of the information that we care about is things that are in our heads, right? And that’s not out there to be indexed, right?” Zuckerberg was in middle school when Google launched, and he seems to have a deep desire to build something that moves beyond it. “It’s like hardwired into us in a deeper way: you really want to know what’s going on with the people around you,” he said.
Regarding favorites, such as artists and books: what Zuckerberg lists may not necessary be his favorites (I sympathize with his explanation):

I asked Zuckerberg about “Ender’s Game,” the sci-fi book whose hero is a young computer wizard.

“Oh, it’s not a favorite book or anything like that,” Zuckerberg told me, sounding surprised. “I just added it because I liked it. I don’t think there’s any real significance to the fact that it’s listed there and other books aren’t. But there are definitely books—like the Aeneid—that I enjoyed reading a lot more.”

I think The New Yorker piece paints an honest portrait of Zuckerberg. While he may have been slightly immature in his teens and earlier twenties, he has grown up considerably over the last few years. I have a feeling that if I were to meet Mark in person, we’d get along.