“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.
- Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolffson: How The Internet Is Making Us Both Richer and More Unequal
- Tyler Cowen: Why The Internet Isn’t As Innovative As a Flushing Toilet
- Roger McNamee: Why HTML5 Will Blow Up Your World
- Craig Mundie: Microsoft, The Supreme Decathlete
- Scott Cook: The Big Lesson America Can Learn From China
- Esther Dyson: Investing Is Like Having Sex