Explore Economics

Having just returned from a showing of the very excellent “The Social Network” – the story of Facebook, I was left wondering about the business objectives of founder Mark Zuckerberg.  The film repeatedly suggests that he was not motivated by money, for example describing how an early application that he developed was uploaded to Microsoft for free.  In a recent interview discussing criticisms of Facebook he suggested:

“It bums me out that people immediately go to “You must be doing this to make money.” Because that’s just so different from the ethos of the company. It is so different from how we actually think about stuff that you feel so misunderstood.” 

This interview with Wired then continues to discuss how the site could provide a greater proportion of the page to advertising than it currently does.  A good example for our students of a firm looking for increased market share rather than profit maximization? 

The book version of the Facebook story is entitled “the Accidental Billionaires” but is this an accurate portrayal? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg is more of a shrewd businessman than he lets on.  Did he play the long game, recognising the importance of reputation and market share before reaping the profits?  With recent estimates of the value of Facebook at over $30 billion and profits of tens of millions it seems it is unlikely that investors are anything less than profit satisficed to date!

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