"Originally, we were not planning on expanding or anything." - Mark Zuckerberg, August 2006
As Facebook (FB) launched its IPO this morning, I plowed into my archives and found notes from Mark Zuckerberg's visit to Fortune six years ago. The Facebook founder was a 22-year-old Harvard dropout and virgin CEO. I was reporting a cover story about MySpace, then the hottest social-networking site on the planet.
Zuck had a plan to change that balance of social-networking power.
"We have almost nine million members," he noted on that Fortune visit, soon after realizing that Facebook could extend beyond college students. Facebook had launched 11 months earlier in high schools, "and that's grown faster than the college market," Zuckerberg told me. "We don't want everyone," he cautioned. But the notion of connecting the world was clearly germinating. "The desire to have access to people around you is a universal thing," he said.
Back then in 2006, the Facebook founder painstakingly noted how his social network differed from MySpace. "There's a large emphasis on authentication," he said about Facebook, noting its privacy options. Compared to cooler, more freewheeling MySpace, "We make sure that you belong in the community that you say you do." He added: "You have complete control over your information, who sees what." Zuckerberg defined Facebook as "a utility."
Moreover, he tackled a key question that potential investors have asked forever since: Is Facebook a tech or a media company? "We're a tech company, not a media portal," he said, adding proudly, "We're all a bunch of computer dorks."
This morning, I shared my six-year-old Zuckerberg notes with Jessi Hempel, Fortune's resident Facebook expert and the co-author of a terrific recent cover story about the company. Jessi notes that Facebook today is ever more a media company, reliant on advertisers like Procter & Gamble (PG) to grow. Zuck had better hope that other big spenders don't follow General Motors (GM), which recently announced it will no longer spend to advertise on Facebook.
Regardless, it's clear which social network has won the race for global domination. In my archives, I also found notes from a 2006 interview with Ross Levinsohn, who was then a key executive at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWSA) and is now the new CEO of Yahoo (YHOO). Levinsohn told me six years ago that News Corp had looked at Facebook but chose to buy MySpace instead because it had more potential, at a cheaper price. Murdoch told me at the time: "We think we can extend MySpace around the world and it can be a major force globally."
Sometimes the little guy wins.
"When Ed Whitacre decides, it's not negotiable. If he decides against you, you're done."
--Coca-Cola (KO) exec Wendy Clark, about General Motors' (GM) new CEO, whom she worked for when he headed AT&T (ATT). Today, the GM board ousted CEO Fritz Henderson, who was in the post just eight months, and installed Whitacre, GM's chairman, as the new chief executive.
No doubt, Whitacre had a key role in the power shift.
And hearing MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 1, 2009 6:11 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
You might call Al Koch the world's biggest trash collector. As bankrupt General Motors (GM) splits into two parts -- New GM, containing Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC, and Old GM, containing designated bad assets such as Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, Saab -- Koch is the hired gun who's supposed to create value from that latter lot.
Bringing "New GM" out of bankruptcy will be difficult enough. Why would anyone MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 1, 2009 2:41 PM ET
We love this ad:
"You can file our obituary where the sun don't shine. It's times like these that raise the important questions. Do you cower, or do you live free. Do you succumb to fear and doubt, or do you seize the throttle and give it a fearless twist forward. From where we sit in the saddle, we see American companies and good old American ingenuity wrenching the life back MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Mar 30, 2009 6:46 PM ET
Barack Obama's hair is turning gray. The New York Times reported the other day that a President typically ages two years for every year in the job. Thank goodness our new President is only 47 years old. The way things are going right now, I suspect he'll age twice as fast as other Presidents.
We learned this week that things are worse than we thought. General Electric (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt, MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 6, 2009 1:02 PM ET
I was in California this past week and I'm happy to report that the Golden State did not fall into the Pacific Ocean.
It seemed it might, as inches of rain drenched Silicon Valley and the state government fought off insolvency. What a disaster California is right now, even after the legislature yesterday approved a plan to close a $42 billion budget deficit and end the "fiscal emergency" that the action-hero MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 20, 2009 1:51 PM ET
You think you lost a bundle in the market? The CEOs who lead the companies in the upper decks of the Fortune 500 have fared even worse: Their stock holdings in their own companies declined in value by $54 billion last year.
A just-released study by executive compensation consultancy Steven Hall & Partners sums up the damage. For CEOs who head 175 of the top 200 corporations in the Fortune 500, MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 22, 2009 2:06 PM ET
by Jessica Shambora
When Ellen Kullman stepped into the CEO role at DuPont (DD) this month, she became the 13th female Fortune 500 CEO. That's a milestone. But Kullman's ascension passed with little fanfare. She addressed employees in a year-end video on DuPont's intranet site but has yet to address them as a group or to send out a company-wide email since the start of the year.
Why so quiet? Well, unlike MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jan 8, 2009 2:31 PM ET
By Jessica Shambora
It's Christmas week, always a quiet time at workplaces across the country. But this holiday is anything but typical. The quiet will stretch way beyond Christmas at many offices and factories this year.
No surprise, the Big Three automakers are temporarily shutting North American plants, in numbers correlating to their varying degrees of peril. Chrysler closed all 30 of its plants for a month. General Motors (GM) followed suit MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Dec 22, 2008 3:27 PM ET
"You think I would have gone through what I did the last two months if I didn't want to stay?"
-- General Motors (GM) chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, reiterating today that he's determined to keep his job. In exchange for a $13.4 billion rescue package (which will come from the government's $700 bllion TARP fund aimed at banks and Wall Street firms), executives at GM and Chrysler agreed to limits MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 19, 2008 6:39 PM ET
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