“As Mark decides, so will Facebook go,” David Kirkpatrick told me about the future of Facebook at his Techonomy conference earlier this week. Kirkpatrick, the author of the excellent The Facebook Effect and the world’s leading authority on the history of Facebook, believes that Mark Zuckerberg now has to make a clear choice about his company’s future. The young multi-billionaire has to choose, Kirkpatrick says, between making money and making the world a more open and connected place. And this choice, Kirkpatrick believes, will have a significant impact not only on Facebook, but also on the Internet economy and perhaps even the future of global democracy.
Reflecting the generally anti Wall Street sentiment at Techonomy (see, for example, Elevation Partners’ Roger McNamee embrace of Occupy Wall St), Kirkpatrick believes that a focus on the short-term financial goals of the public markets will not ultimately be in Facebook’s interest. So, Kirkpatrick suggested, if Facebook is going to become the social operating system of the Internet and have a grand social and political purpose, it has to escape Wall St’s myopically short-termed revenue obsession.
This is my concluding interview from Techonomy. It has established itself on the calender as a major event about the economic and political impact of technology and I very much look forward to attending many more Techonomies in the future. Below is a list of my interviews from the event.
David Kirkpatrick is the author of The Facebook Effect and an organizer of the Techonomy conference. Previously, he was the senior editor for internet and technology at Fortune Magazine. He specialized in the computer and technology industries, as well as in the impact of the Internet on business and society. He thinks that impact is huge. His book, The Facebook Effect, about Facebookâ€™s history and how it is changing behaviors across societies worldwide, was recently published. He maintains...