In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook (FB) from his Harvard University dorm room, hoping to see what his classmates were up to on campus. The following eight years brought international fame, unimaginable wealth, a hit Hollywood movie, a disastrous initial public offering, a sagging stock price—and one unprecedented achievement. On Sept. 14, the company reached 1 billion active users. In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg Businessweek’s Brad Stone and Ashlee Vance, Zuckerberg reflected on the milestone and what’s next for his company as it resurfaces from a wave of negativity.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Congratulations on your first billion users. What does this mean for Facebook?
Mark Zuckerberg: The No. 1 value here is focus on impact. We’ve always been small in terms of number of employees. We have this stat that we throw out all the time here: There is on the order of 1,000 engineers and now on the order of a billion users, so each engineer is responsible for a million users. You just don’t get that anywhere else. I was talking to [Facebook board member] Marc Andreessen about this and he said the only two companies that he thought of that had a billion customers are Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.
That wouldn’t surprise me. It’s really humbling to get a billion people to do anything.
Did you guys think about doing anything with the billionth user, grocery store-style?
I wanted to, but we didn’t want to leak that we got to a billion people. Doing data analytics at this scale is a big challenge, and one of the things you have to do is sample. So it’s funny, we were all sitting around watching us get to a billion users but it was actually just a sample of the users. It’s like you’re not going to try to pull a billion rows from a database, so you’ll pull a sample and project out. I don’t even know if we knew who the billionth person was.
How did you celebrate the moment?
Well, just everyone came together and counted down. Then we all went back to work…
Read more: Bloomberg Businessweek