Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined the company’s four top priorities for the next five years at its 2017 Annual Stockholder Meeting that was held on Thursday. Community-building, video, messaging and Internet access are the foundation on which Facebook will continue to scale its business and generate revenue, from ad sales to enabling customer service chatbots and other services.
As Zuckerberg told shareholders, “Our community is up to 1.9 billion people who actively use our services every month and more than 1.3 billion people use them every day. Last year, the business performed really well and we reached $27.6 billion in revenue including in the first quarter of this year, we reached $8 billion in revenue, so a lot of good progress on a lot of fronts.”
“This year, we also just celebrated the five-year anniversary of our IPO, which some of you remember was pretty rocky at the time. It’s been a pretty good journey so far. I appreciate all of your support along the way. We’ve a lot more ahead that we’re looking forward to doing.”
Zuckerberg told shareholders that the focus for the next five years centers on:
Reflecting on the five years so far, I had a chance to read the shareholder letter that I wrote when we first went public, and a lot of the principles that we were talking about back then are still the principles that we care about in running the company: giving everyone a voice, connecting people with friends and family and the people they care about.
But one thing has I think shifted in our thinking, which is for the first 10 years of the company, we’ve really focused primarily on connecting friends and families. And now I think we have this growing realization that that is very important but is not enough to bring the world closer together. In addition to connecting friends and family and trying to give everyone a voice, we also have to proactively work to build communities and bring people closer together to make it, so that the discourse that we have is positive and that people over time aren’t becoming more divided, but as we have a chance to share more can also come together in our views to make progress together as the society.
I wrote this letter in February that some of you may have had a chance to read. I tried to outline some of the things that I think Facebook can do to help build communities around the world. And my point in that wasn’t to say that Facebook is maybe the only company or institution doing this, of course we’re not, but the job of building communities around the world is one that is shared by everyone and that I do believe that we can play a role in this and have a responsibility to do our part. I laid out a few things that I feel like we have a particular opportunity and responsibility to help do.
One is around helping people connect with supportive communities. There is a lot of people on Facebook today who joined communities that are important parts of their support structure, whether you’re a new mother who just had a child and joined the group for supportive new mothers; or if your spouse or someone in the military and you want to connect with other people who are spouses of military folks when they’re away; or you are suffering from a rare disease and maybe there is no one in your community physically around you who you know has that disease but there are people, maybe thousands of people around the world, who have that (and) now you can share that experience with people.
What we found is that there are more than 100 million people on Facebook who are members of one of these meaningful groups and communities. And we’ve set a goal internally that over the next 5 or 10 years, we want to see if we can help one billion more people (or more) connect to meaningful communities with that. We think that if we can do this that can help provide people with the support structure that they need in their lives.
A second important part of building community is helping keep people safe. A real cornerstone of any community is that we all come together to look out for each other and make sure that when things are going wrong, whether it’s a urgent short-term crisis or ongoing issues, that we have that we look out for each other. Facebook and online communities have a unique opportunity to help people come together in new ways. So whether it’s after an earthquake in 2015 when our community came together to raise more than $15 million to support people rebuilding in India and Nepal, or more recently, there are number of issues and cases that we’ve seen with video where our community’s come together to help save people who are thinking about suicide and get them the support they needed. There is a lot more here that I think that we can do.
Recently, we announced that we’re going to add 3,000 new people to our community office (moderation) team so that we can respond more quickly when we get reports from people that someone might not be safe in our community or someone might need help or someone is thinking about harm or there is some violence that is going on. We want to make sure that we can respond to that really quickly and we’re going to continue growing the team that works on this. That’s already thousands of people, but we’re going to almost double it over the next year to continue working on this to keep people safe.
When we talk about over the next few years what’s going to have the biggest impact, the thing that I’m most focused on now is video. It’s a huge trend as mobile networks get better, as cameras on our phone get better, we can all have the opportunity to take videos throughout our day, upload them with a big lag, click on a video to watch it without having it take couple of minutes to watch. And because of that video is absolutely taking off in lots of different formats.
People taking videos with cameras on their phone, people consuming videos and news feed, people sharing stories—and that’s a new important format that now on Instagram, there are more than 200 million people who look at and watch stories every day. WhatsApp is not far behind that and (Facebook) Messenger and Facebook Stories are growing quickly too. That’s an important part of video consumption going forward and that’s going to be just an important part of the strategy that I’m sure we will talk more about over the coming years.
Over the next five years, probably the thing that I’m most excited about is messaging. With WhatsApp and Messenger, there are already tens of billions of messages that people send everyday through these services. Messenger and WhatsApp both have about 1.3 billion people using each of them every month and are growing really quickly. These are some of the largest networks in the world. And we are only at the very beginning of starting to turn them into businesses.
I’m really optimistic about this because I know that most people don’t like calling businesses for support, they want to message them and they want to not have to sit there and wait for a response but just get pinged back on the business that has the answer that they need. I’m very confident that this is going to be a big business and something that’s going to be a really good user experience for all the people who are using these products and there is just a lot of passion and excitement inside the company to build that out. It’s one of the most exciting opportunities in the technology landscape when I look out and see what’s out there.
4) INTERNET ACCESS
Over the longest period of time that we focus our strategy on, the 10-year period, one of the things that I just remain extremely excited about is getting more people on the Internet. Today, still more than half of the world does not have the opportunities that come with being on the Internet. And for a lot of us who probably live in the US, that’s probably not a reality that all of us have to confront every day because most of the people you know are probably on the Internet. But around the world, more than half of people aren’t (online).
The Internet is not just about accessing your friends, it’s also for a lot of people the primary way that they get access to education information and health information and opportunities about jobs and financial information, on how they should manage their families’ finances. This is incredibly important. As a company, we’re one of the organizations in the world that I think is well-positioned to partner with telcos and governments around the world to make sure that billions of more people can get access to all those opportunities over the next decade. So we’re doing a lot to do that, from working with operators on different business models to supporting local entrepreneurs and selling Wi-Fi and building the technology that they need to have hotspots. And we’ve already connected 50 million people or more to the Internet through these programs over the last few years alone and there is lot more that we can do that we’re excited about.