Interview with David Kirkpatrick, Author – “The Facebook Effect”

This article is the continuation of my converation with David Kirkpatrick. In the earlier article, we spoke about the Importance of Cloud Services. If you are interested in that area, I would recommend you read that conversation here

For Folks who have landed directly on this page – Last week I was there at the NASSCOM Infrastructure Management Summit here in Bangalore, where I was invited to have a chat with David Kirkpatrick in the evening.

David KirpatrickDavid Kirkpatrick – David for many years was the senior editor for Internet and technology at Fortune magazine. While at Fortune, he wrote cover stories about Apple, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sun, and numerous other technology subjects. He created the Fortune’s Brainstorm conference series. More recently, he organized the Techonomy conference on the centrality of technology innovation for all human activity. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and appears frequently on television, radio, and the Internet as an expert on technology. He is also the author of the book – “The Facebook Effect: The inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World”.

Over to the interview –

Vijay – I was a big fan of Orkut, when I was out of college. I found a lot of my friends there. I used to go to their scrapbook, write comments, join communities, discuss in forums etc.., and then there was this paradigm shift for me towards Facebook. After being here for a while, I really do not want to get back to Orkut now. I guess, that’s the case with quite a few people. Why do you think, Facebook was able to create this kind of an Impact on a user? What are the reasons for its success to reach 50 million users in such a short span?

David – There is a whole lot of answers to that. I think the single biggest answer, why Facebook has stolen the thunder from Orkut, MySpace, Friendster and other services is that, it’s more a technologically sophisticated service and evolves itself as a product more rapidly. It’s only the paranoid survive approach. Andy Grove is the one who said that and I think Zuckerberg absolutely operates that way. He really believes that, if Facebook remains static for very long, someone is going to come up its tail-pipe and eat it. Orkut despite been owned by Google has not had that kind of aggressive evolving mentality. I think, even though people complain about the changes on Facebook, the quality of the Facebook product has remained the state of the art from the beginning. I mean, today it’s most seen in the platform, which now extends to the entire internet. Orkut does not have anything like that. Facebook says that, its ‘Facebook Connect’ and ‘Open Graph API’ – has been implemented in over a million sites. That’s after that, it was just launched in April, 5 months later, it’s over a million sites. The other sites are trying to copy those things, but Facebook is just more sophisticated as a product and leverages as a platform.

Vijay – I agree on it David. In fact, even I have a Facebook widget on my weblog at the end of every article and It really works. Well, I have been hearing Zuckerberg more times from your mouth; can you talk about him a little? How does he work? Is he planning for an IPO for Facebook?

David – Fundamentally, beside all the platform benefits which Facebook offers, I think all of that flows from Zuckerberg’s basic mindset, and he has the absolute control of the Facebook. He has an absolute dictatorial control, unlike any other social networking company. His mindset has always been that, we want to make Facebook for everybody, everybody on the planet. Everything he does and all of his decisions are based around that long term vision. “Make it to reach more people and making it more stable, how to market it and how to position it and virally extend it”. I don’t think, any other social network has that kind of passion and intensity about growth. And because of that, they have this software centricity, this simplicity of interface design and all these other features.  The fact that, Zuckerberg has been so dubious about advertising has kept Facebook feeling relatively non-commercial and it’s simple. It’s kept its interface quite clean., and that’s something he believes in very deeply.  The Google Success was built on top of the most bare bone interface you’ve ever seen, and Facebook came along with somewhat similar approach, with far more complex architecture in reality but still kept it look simpler. Kept the ads to the bare minimum, and what i think that did is, not only made it look cool and clean, it made people feel that, it could be for anyone and everyone. So it didn’t have the feeling of just being for kids, it was so neutral that, anyone felt that they can use it and that has been the key to its growth. I think, he is also kind of acknowledging the idea of an IPO, in order to give the employees more liquidity….but not right away, may be in 2012.

Vijay – What would be the business model for Facebook? Where and how do you think, they can make money from?

David – I think the long term business model for Facebook will arise from distributing ads as a part of the platform, as a part of the Facebook connect social API, and open Graph APIs. When you think about it, Today in your blog, you have a like button, there is no reason why, Facebook couldn’t come to you and say, “Hey we know the people, who are coming to your site and liking the contents, we know their gender, their geographic location, why not you let us sell ads for you and target them to those people with a percentage revenue sharing model?”,  With around a million sites having implemented it, it would be almost impossible for you to refuse this offer. You might now probably use Google AdSense or any ad network; I think, Facebook ads might be more effective, especially when you have the like button or a fan page widget. That to me is the biggest business opportunity which they haven’t even started to take the advantage of, they haven’t even done it yet.

Vijay – I am really amazed of the way, how Twitter and Facebook has pushed all the companies towards social Media. I am not aware of any company now, which doesn’t have a Twitter handle or a Facebook page.  Their interaction with the people has just changed.  The feedback mechanism and support is getting too easy these days. It’s nice to see Nestle and other folks, interact to people via their fan page.

David – Oh yeah. Indeed, Nestle got into some kinda trouble earlier, until they realized and came back soft on their Facebook page. So I agree. This is changing the way, people think about business and communications.

Vijay – I see that, we can have more than one pages for the same brand or product, are you aware of any process that, Facebook makes it a Verified Page? Pretty much similar to Twitter Verified profiles.

David – I am not aware on any process of that kind as of now. However, you can always go to the company’s website and see what link they point to! Also, Facebook only approves canonical URLs for pages which has an embed code or widget added to a website/blog. So that could be one way to find the right one. I will post this feedback to them.

Vijay – Sometimes, a feature which comes in very handy and helpful for me is Facebook Chat. Though it’s not a highly sophisticated chat engine, it does the job for me. Now, are my chats stored somewhere? Few days back there were some issue regarding the Blackberry chat option, being used for terrorist activities. What is the Facebook’s Standpoint on this, as I don’t see these chats saved somewhere?

David – Well, Facebook is not saving the chat history and is not making it available. However If police has a proper legal channel to ask, as the platform and architecture is more extensive and open for changes, Facebook can give that data to the Police and Government if needed. But they don’t give routine access to Government as it is contrary to the company’s general law. But they must re-think about it, if Zuckerberg targets on entering China.

Vijay – What do you think, would be a nice feature to add on Facebook?

David – Friendgroup is something which Facebook needs. Sometimes, you tend to add people whom you meet. But, you want to see updates only from few. For example,   More about families and friends, and less about people whom you added.., just because you didn’t wanted to tell a no. Also this group must be easily manageable. Kavitha also popped in with an idea of having a dislike or thumbs-down option for the people who put nonsense status message would be a nice addition.  at least it would cut a lot of crap!

Vijay – What do you think if Twitter comes up with Promotional Tweets as one of their business model? Would that work?

David – That could be offensive, we don’t perceive twitter to be a kind of place where we get unsolicited message. I think, it should be done with caution and I think they would. The features which they just announced last week are really nice. It needs to be much more a web portal. Like I said earlier, it also needs to introduce a group control. One of the reason, i don’t follow many people is that, most of the interesting things gets lost when you follow many people. I think, twitter is for the people who want to sell something. May be a product, idea or something else.., because, you are not a person to them…you are just a follower! The marketing folks have started to realize how hard it is to reach the people, because you tweet a message, doesn’t mean your followers read it. However the story is different in Facebook, where there are algorithmic tools, which gets your page view analytics and when you spend more time on a page or a person.., you tend to see them on your newsfeed, which absolutely makes sense.

Vijay – What is the message you would give to the developers and readers?

David – Well, do not expect the Facebook to stop growing. Make the best use of the Facebook and Open Graph APIs, and instead of just having a fan-page create apps which can consume the information and spread it to the people. That way, you nourish the platform and get the best of it for you and your users.

Vijay – I read that you spent over 2 years researching about Facebook, while writing your book. How did you manage to do that?  and., what would a reader get out of your book “The Facebook Effect”?

David – I had the full cooperation of Facebook’s key executives in researching this fascinating history of the company and its impact on our lives. This book will explain how Facebook was created, why it has flourished, and where it is going next. Its successes and missteps, and gives readers the most complete assessment anywhere of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the central figure in the company’s remarkable ascent. How did a nineteen-year-old Harvard student create a company that has transformed the Internet and how did he grow it to its current enormous size.  It will talk about a company that has changed social life in the United States and elsewhere, a company that has become a ubiquitous presence in marketing, altering politics, business, and even our sense of our own identity. This is the Facebook Effect. This is the Facebook story that can be found nowhere else.

Vijay – Great to hear that. I am sure, everyone will be really eager to read this book. Thanks for your time David, It was great talking to you and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Have a great stay in India and hope to see you again soon.

David – I liked the conversation too. I also got to talk about something else for a change.  You could see, I can think about the other stuffs too. It also makes me feel that, i know other things in technology and not just Facebook.  I would love to come here to India again. Thank you for your questions and this interview!

If you want to buy David’s book, you can buy the same from Amazon here. You would also be interested in joining the Official Fan Page of “The Facebook Effect”. It was a great experience for me to interview him. Do let me know your comments and thoughts. Of-course, the biggest takeaways for me would be the knowledge gained through discussion and this picture which I clicked with him.

David and Vijay


  1. It all started when I was logged in to the Harvard website, where I was listening in to the conversations of the Harvard students. One of these students was Mark Zuckerberg who was talking about Face Smash and he had just broken up with his girlfriend at the time, so I struck up a conversation with this Mark Zuckerberg. He was talking about creating a dating site. I thought this was a bit odd – a pie in the sky idea since he had just broken up with his girlfriend and he was slagging her off – calling her a bitch and a whore.
    dave talked to Mark about the idea, and suggested he call it Face Mash. He was intrigued with my suggestion and thought it was a good idea. Mark wanted to call it Face Smash, because he wanted to smash his ex in the face. I convinced him that Face Mash was a good idea and he agreed, but one week later he changed his mind and wanted to call it Face Smash. When I queried him about this he replied ‘f…. off you c…- I’m calling it Face Smash’. Two weeks after this conversation he came up with the name Mashable and when I asked him why he chose the word Mashable instead of Face Mash he said ‘f,…off you bastard, Face mash is not your idea’. So I re-posted the conversations we had two weeks earlier and he had to apologise and said he was going with Mashable. I took this as a sign that he wanted to throw me off the scent and take the site for himself. dave found the character of Mark Zuckerberg to be deceptive and dishonest and ended conversing with Mark Zuckerberg because of his dishonesty and lack of integrity

    After this dave started conversing with Dustin and Chris about an idea of mine called Facebook for an online service where students can post pictures and information on themselves and use it as a directory. They were very intrigued by my idea and wanted to know more.
    dave told them that in the beginning, it would be an online service just for Harvard students, and then spreading through the other campuses in America, joining them up together. The idea was to make it easy for people to connect with other university students so they could get an idea of what other campuses were like, and even eventually spreading through the general public, giving them an idea of what was offered at the different campuses.
    Dustin and Chris were very intrigued with my idea and said they wanted to be on board.
    dave talked extensively about my ideas of Facebook and went into great detail of how to get it set up and started. They queried about the finance of setting it up and I told them I was in contact with Tony Robbins, who was interested by the idea and we were having discussions regarding his financial backing of the project

    So we needed a platform dave made contact with paul ceglia and was in discussion about a platform for my idea the facebook
    but zuckerberg was dustin & chris roommate and zuckerberg made contact to paul ceglia to steal the idea facebook
    paul ceglia had no legal right to sell the the platform to mark zuckerberg but zuckerberg new what he was doing when he sign the contract
    (paul ceglia had no legal right to sell the the platform to mark zuckerberg } the contract was to David not zuckerberg .

    And what are you going to do zuckerberg when paul ceglia wins you can call the contract a fake a counterfeit but you cant can you zuckerberg Yes you did sign a contract zuckerberg In a email zuckerberg called paul ceglia a dum sucker in 2003 i david posted a copy of to friend and he set it fee and the roomer spread years a go that zuckerberg had sign the contract and yes the abc news room have a copy of the email

    So zuckerberg what are your options zuck i suppose you can tell the truth you see paul cegia had no legal right to sell you the platform
    david was in contact to paul about a platform suitable for facebook but you wonted to steal facebook by stealth and you will have to tell
    your mother and farther and sisters how you stole the idea facebook yes pay back is a bitch zuck and your co conspire in this was dustin
    yes dustin you told zuck to shut up about facebook you little prick

    dave then found another contact at Harvard, called Eduardo Saverin and invited him to join me in developing my idea, and also to find out what was going on between Dustin, Chris and Mark . eduardo offered finance to get facebook up and runing but zuckerberg spent the money on him self selfish prick zuck spent eduardo saverin money and spat in his face your best friend

    So ass one last effort to save facbook david contacted sean parker At the time, he was running an online site called Napstar, and he was also working on another site called Wired Hog parker at the time was on the move moving in to a new address : I started conversing with
    sean parker about the idea facebook ; so i contacted the guys and gave them the new address of sean parker; and it was at this time zuckerberg was starting to argue with eduardo saverin: you see zuck had what he needed to steal facebook :{sean parker}

    Sean wanted 55% ownership of the project for his input so dave told him this was unacceptable and then he turned round and told Mark Zuckerberg had made him a better offer. dave told him that Mark did not own the idea of Facebook.
    He then got smart and asked me if dave knew what emails were and whether I could produce any evidence. dave took this as an attempt to see whether I could prove everything that took place and for him to use this as a weapon to see if he could gouge out as much interest in Facebook as he could, and he tried to play me off against Zuckerberg to get the maximum holdings of Facebook. I received an email from Parker saying that Zuckerberg had offered him 5% and was I interested in offering him more. At this point, I told him to **** off and that Facebook was not Zuckerberg’s idea

    So dave found a site at Harvard called Harvard Connect (later, in 2004 changed to Harvard Connect To You) run by Cameron and Taylor Winklevoss, and dave explained everything about Facebook and the dealings with Zuckerberg, Dustin and Chris and how dave believed that Zuckerberg was in the process of stealing david idea, and I dave asked if the Winklevosses were interested in running Facebook on the Harvard site

    They expressed enthusiasm in the offer and liked the idea of running the site as they liked the concept of Facebook.They told me that they were going to change their site name and redesign it at that time (to Harvard Connect To You The person they called in to help them
    redesign their site was Mark Zuckerberg who then stole their platform : I told them that zuckerberg was a crook the winklevoss where to dumb and dupe by zuckerberg LooooooooL.
    And what do the winklevoss remind me off; its two building and the two buildings were the TWIN TOWERS you guys talk about the truth like you own the truth but you do not and never will .

    dave then went to Aaron Greenspan who was running house systems at Harvard and asked him (under an email non disclosure agreement) to run Facebook on his site which he agreed to do. aaron greenspan used the (info) to extort financal money out of facebook and zuckerberg paid the extortion money and dave call it extortion U see zuckerberg new aaron greenspan new zuck had stolen the idea facebook .I sent all the emails copy to aaron greenspan:{ aaron sold him self off like a hooker standing on a street corner } and what was that quotation aaron that quotation you set me about honour and truth you now the same bullshit the winklevoss are bullshiting on about

    zuckerberg then went on to create a FAKE CONNECT 2U account filled with FAKE information from the stolen platform he stole from the winklevoss Dave got a email from this FAKE CONNECT 2U account . but dave new it was FAKE it was zuckerberg .
    zuckerber wonted more info and idea to steal so dave gave one idea and it was to put a silver layer around the F word on facebook to see if zuckerberg was going to steal this idea and yes he did

    david then log a complaint to the FBI about this stolen fake connect 2u account with fake information and about mark zuckerberg
    dave posted a copy of the emails to ben mezrick and to david kirkpatrick as for kirkpatrick your book is a joke and so are you :
    you are just a fence jumper david kirkpatrick and its chris that is the gay one you dick ‘you sold yourself out you were given the full story of how zuckerberg stole facebook; and sold out.

    the winklevoss contacted sumers at UV about zuckerberg but summers new the full story of how zuckerberg stole facebook and it was david idea ?
    there was coup organized by divyn narendra to over frow zuck from the idea FB but was a failure the winklevoss were to dumb yes dumb & dumber

    david kirkpatrick & ben mezrick were givin copes of the emails in and around 2004 and can confirm the story above ?

    david kirkpatrick was given all the emails and was made fully aware of how zuckerberg stole facebook from david in the beginning i gave kirkpatrick 80% of the emails kirkpatrick then ask if there was more ‘ yes there is more but ask kirkpatrick that he must reveal the truth the other 20% was email from paul ceglia to me dave made contact with paul ceglia and was in discussion about a platform for my idea the facebook
    as for kirkpatrick you are a prick

    in a email to eduardo i told him to get a lawyer zuckerberg was going to screw him over and told him to contact ben mezrick
    eduardo told me he had a lawyer he can trust but zuckerberg and the lawyer screwed him over

    So there we have it the full story of how facebook started:

    kirkpatrick falls victim to the bane of many business historians infatuation with the subject


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