Facebook: We’re Not Focused on Making Money

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook, the fast-growing consumer social
networking site, doesn’t need money, its CEO said at the Web 2.0 Summit.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said his company isn’t worried
about revenue for now. It’s flush with Microsoft cash, and besides, it already does make money.

“Growth is our top priority,” said Zuckerberg, in an onstage interview Thursday with the event’s program chair, John Battelle. “We’re not focused on
optimizing for revenue. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a revenue
strategy.”

He pointed out that Facebook has two revenue channels,
direct ad sales to brand advertisers and a self-service online ad
platform that lets advertisers buy ads with a credit card. Facebook
works with two-thirds of the top U.S. advertisers, and approximately
25 percent of the country’s retailers created Facebook pages in 2008
to promote their offerings, according to a survey by Shop.org, a unit
of the National Retail Federation. Facebook also has “thousands and
thousands” of marketers buying self-service ads.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced
a deal
with Salesforce.com that will enable enterprises to build
social networking features into Salesforce apps. Terms of the deal
weren’t disclosed.

Battelle asked Zuckerberg about criticism that Facebook is a
walled garden that doesn’t allow users to move their profiles to
other social networks, something that Google’s OpenSocial
initiative is designed to do. MySpace, Yahoo and AOL have signed
on
to the OpenSocial initiative, but Facebook has resisted.

Hoping to beat OpenSocial

Zuckerberg hinted that his company might hope to beat out
OpenSocial to become the standard for online identity. He told the
audience, “A lot of people say they like using our interface better.
Whether or not ours will become the open standard, our first goal is
to get people on Facebook and make them comfortable sharing
information online.”

Zuckerberg’s conversation with Battelle lurched along,
characterized by early silences and one-syllable answers. The
audience at the San Francisco technology conference was much more
polite than it was when former Businessweek reporter Sarah Lacey
tried to get him to open up at South by Southwest Interactive Confab
this past spring. Lacey was attacked viciously via Twitter and live bloggers for her interviewing approach.

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