Facebook VP Chris Cox On The Company's Past, Future, And Recipe For Success

Today to close out its f8 developer conference, Facebook VP of Product Chris Cox took the stage to talk about the evolution of Facebook over the last six years, and how the company’s core principles have largely remained the same.

During his presentation, Cox recounted Facebook’s early days, when the site’s profile photos were often of keg stands, and there weren’t Events, Facebook Chat, or even Photos (though you could see if your friends were logging in from a campus dorm — remember that?).

Cox detailed how the then-small group of around ten engineers would watch how users were abusing existing features — like creating a personal profile for a fraternity, or, later, a Group for an Event — and implemented new features accordingly. Through it all, he says Facebook’s recipe for success was the same:

  • The products were simple
  • They’re people-centric
  • The products were Hacks. In other words, the engineers took systems that weren’t built for what people were doing, observed what users were trying to do, and built the features from there.

Cox also discussed the future outlook of Facebook and the web. He described how Facebook’s social recommendations could be used to suggest TV shows your friends had recently watched (and your DVR had recorded automatically for you). He also described how the future of news could be more social, with stories presented not just with the editorial of newspapers, but the commentary of your peers.  Cox finished his talk with a call to developers, urging them to help turn the web from a place where anonymity reigns to one of real identities.

If you’d like to watch Cox’s talk for yourself, click here, then hit the ‘Keynote Recording’ tab on the right side of the widget, then click on ‘Closing Remarks’ (there doesn’t seem to be a way to embed it or post a direct link).