Facebook founder and proud dad Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he and wife Priscilla Chan will give up 99 percent of their shares in Facebook to fund a new initiative inspired by the birth of their daughter Max.
Zuckerberg and Chan celebrated the arrival of their daughter by announcing in a lengthy post on Facebook that they want to create a world that Max can thrive in by using their immense wealth in areas such as education, healthcare and connectivity.
“Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today,” they wrote.
The happy couple will now pour the money into the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to support this goal, with a focus on “personalised learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities”.
“We will give 99 percent of our Facebook shares - currently about $45bn - during our lives to advance this mission,” the couple added breezily.
The money will be given in stages and Zuckerberg will still retain a majority stake in the company for the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, the intention to give away such a huge amount of money in the name of charity by such a well-known tech figure is notable, and could well encourage others with frankly obscene net worth to do likewise.
Indeed, one of the first to back Zuckerberg and Chan's plans was Melissa Gates, part of the power couple that heads up the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation which is also dedicated to using the immense wealth Gates generated from Microsoft to improve the planet.
“As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: wow. The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world," she wrote by way of reply on the Facebook post.
“We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, 'Seeds planted now will grow.' Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come.”
Michael Bloomberg also praised Chan and Zuckerberg for the decision, claiming that they will never regret it. And he urged other super rich tech leaders to do likewise.
"The traditional approach to giving - leaving it to old age or death - is falling by the wayside, as it should. Mark’s decision shows that, when it comes to philanthropy, 30 is the new 70," he said.
"I share many of Mark’s philanthropic interests, especially around education and innovation, and his focus on long-term ideas and research will help create economic opportunities and promote social equality for generations to come. The only question now is: how many of his peers in Silicon Valley and beyond will join him?"
Whether other leaders, such as those at Google, Apple, Oracle and so forth, are compelled to do likewise remains to be seen, but it is heartening to see a couple with so much wealth and influence recognise at such a young age that their money can be better spent on improving the world, rather than on garish super yachts, private islands or fleets of never-driven sports cars.
30 Sep 2015
Brevity is a lovely thing. Short sentences are sweet. A few words often trump many. This is why Twitter is a beloved social platform. Users are limited to a mere 140 characters per post, so their public ravings can be kept concise and clear.
Vitriol-spewing racists and misanthropes are kept relatively in check, while the annoyingly positive and smug show-offs are limited in their scope to ram words down your newsfeed.
This includes a new product that does away with the 140-character limit, and could enable people to post long-form content on Twitter.
People can already post images of long blocks of writing to bypass the limit, but such a workaround is not commonly used by the average Twitterer posting updates on their meals or raging against the UK's rail and transport services.
Twitter has already made moves to support longer comments when retweeting links, so the move to allow lengthier self-expression in general is not entirely unsurprising.
It would also appear that Dorsey is keen on exploring other changes to Twitter, even if his tenure in the hot seat is temporary.
"People have been very precious at Twitter about what Twitter can be and how much it can be evolved," a current senior employee told Re/code. "Having Jack come in and say it's OK makes all the difference in the world."
Dorsey may have his eye on expanding Twitter's reach beyond that of celebrities, brands, online extroverts and cynical media types, but many may oppose the idea of expanded tweets. Such a change could prompt a deluge of manifesto-length musings, rants, views and pontification, eroding the rapidly digestible nature of short tweets.
One could argue that these rumoured plans might turn Twitter into more of a Facebook-like platform. Mark Zuckerberg's social network sports a user base of around 1.5 billion people, so perhaps aping it a little is not such a bad thing for Twitter.
Bill Gates has reclaimed his title as the world's richest man, passing telecoms magnate Carlos Slim Helu for the top spot in Forbes' annual rich list with a current estimated net worth of $72bn.
To put that in perspective, Bill Gates now worth a little over ten Nokias, the company Microsoft is in the process of buying for $7.2bn. Gates – who is re-acquainting himself with Microsoft's product team as the firm's new technology adviser – hasn't held the top spot in four years
As a man who spends most of time these days on philanthropic schemes to spend his money on at every given opportunity, it's highly unlikely that he cares about a fairly superficial list of people in sharp suits.
There are plenty of familiar faces from the world of IT. Oracle's Larry Ellison ranks fifth, with a net worth of $48bn. You have to head down the list to 17th before you find another tech name; Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page. Page is apparently worth $32.3bn, or 10 Nests, the connected home company Google bought in January for $3.2bn.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos is close behind at 18th, with $32bn in his metaphorical coffers, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin weighs in at 19th place, with $31.8bn. That's 11 Motorolas, if you're counting. Lenovo probably is.
Where's Mark Zuckerberg? He's down in 21st place with $28.5bn, or around one-and-a-half Whatsapps.
Other than tech, retail dominates the list, as do financial investments. The outspoken Carl Icahn is worth $24.5bn, which isn't bad for a man who expresses his business grievances on Twitter.
By V3's Michael Passingham, who's also worth it
Facebook doesn't make money on hardware, software, or subscriptions. Instead, they make money on the data users put out. They take the data users send out and sell it to advertisers who in turn sell users stuff through the use of targeted ads.
The idea that major corporations sell users data scares a lot of people. These people don't necessarily have anything to hide; they're just ordinary people who like to have a sense of privacy.
These people use Gmail, Facebook, and Google+. Some of them will even probably end up using Facebook Home.
These potential Facebook Home users spoke up about their fears that the app/skin/thing would invade their privacy in a way unheard of previously. So Facebook went on the offensive and dropped a Q&A for Home's privacy policies.
The Q&A basically said Facebook Home doesn't change the way the company handles user data. User's location data won't be collected in anyway that is unique and it won't collect data users create from other apps.
So if nothing changes then what is the end game? Why is Facebook making a free super-app that doesn't do anything new for advertisers? Because by putting itself on your home screen, Facebook can gleam a lot more data using the same policies.
By buying into Facebook Home users will be sort-of using a Facebook ecosystem. Facebook already has an app store which has the potential for growth. It also has a messaging service and a slew of other apps users could use to replace their current Android offerings.
The famous Microsoft "Scroogled" campaign derided Google for searching through Gmail messages to serve up sponsored ads. Google uses all of its apps to give advertisers some new kinds of data.
Now Facebook is doing the same thing as its semi-rival Google. It's building out an ecosystem in attempt to better understand how to sell its users stuff. So if you are the type to worry about Facebook Home's privacy policies, you should be less focused on Home and more focused on Facebook as a whole.
Facebook's current privacy policies are the real issue, not the future violations of an unreleased app. If anything is to be done, it should be getting Facebook to update its current policies to better adapt to mobile.
The company has already defined itself as a mobile company so perhaps it should make privacy policies that reflect that. If Facebook really wants to talk up its privacy agenda, it needs to really work to change what its current policies are and not to talk about what its doing with a new app.
05 Apr 2013
Everyone expected a Facebook phone and we all sort of got one. HTC launched the aptly titled HTC First, the mid-level handset with Facebook features front and center.
However, that wasn't really the whole story.
The real news is that Facebook has launched an Android Skin. Mark Zuckerberg and his team just launched Facebook Home, an Android "super-app".
Zuckerberg said Facebook Home is mobile software built around people and not apps (to which Microsoft said this). It's giving users the chance to get Facebook front and center on their mobile device.
So instead of launching a phone, Facebook has launched something phone-esque. It is an Android skin that offers Facebook something different while not offending its friends in the mobile world.
It's a good play from Facebook. They needed to do something to grow and move forward. As a public company they have investors to answer to and needed to show that they have a plan for the mobile market.
A phone may have come on to strong. Giving HTC exclusivity on Facebook would have probably failed in the long run. Too much competition exists in the smartphone arena. Facebook is too big to try to be a disruptive source like Mozilla.
So Facebook did the smart thing and made something that can be used across the world of Android. By doing so, Facebook has the chance to grab some mobile advertising data from all sorts of Android users.
Facebook can now offer location-based data that can be sent to advertisers to offer consumers location-aware ads. The social network can now better monetize mobile advertisements and see improved revenue in the mobile sector, where everybody checks Facebook anyway.
It may not be an amazing announcement, but it's a good one. Slow and steady seems to be Facebook's plan of action. The company is creating something that could branch out into other things but at the moment is pretty simple.
Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has been named most popular chief executive, according to a Glassdoor study.
Glassdoor reported that Mark Zuckerberg had a 99 percent approval rating among his employees. Zuckerberg's approval rating jumped over 10 percent from 2012. Other tech chiefs to make the top 50 included Larry Page, Tim Cook and Larry Ellison.
The Facebook chief's approval rating jumped 14 percent from 2012 to 2013. Zuckerberg's approval rating was only 85 percent last year. The increase in popularity could be attributed to the fact that Facebook had not gone public as of last year's study results. Or it could just be that Mark Zuckerberg has fired everyone who disliked him.
Another interesting note is that Tim Cook's approval rating dropped year-over-year. The Apple chief executive's rating dropped from 97 percent to 93 percent over the course of the last year.
Google's Larry Page also ranked highly, according to Glassdoor's study. The high powered executive ranked as the 11th most popular chief this year. His 95 percent approval rating stayed consistent over the course of last year.
Less loved, but mostly liked, executive Larry Ellison rounded out the top 50. Oracle's founder was ranked the 46th most well-liked chief executive with an 82 percent rating. In comparison, Ellison's former employee (and current nemesis) Salesforce founder Marc Benioff had a 94 percent approval rating.
One executive to not make the top 50 this year was Microsoft's head Steve Ballmer. Redmond's resident chief executive also failed to make Glassdoor's list in 2011.
Facebook's news feed redesign could prove vital in getting advertisers and consumers back on board Facebook.
Facebook is trying to get back to the Wall Street high it received when going public last year. The social network fell quite a few pegs when investors realised its business model left much in terms of future growth.
What's funny is that despite the companies troubling stock prices, usage by consumers has stayed strong. Of course, those users are moving to mobile screens. Something Facebook seemed to not get until recently.
However, with the launch of the revamped news feed Facebook is showing its finally starting to get that it's a mobile company. The engineers at Facebook are now building products and services with a mobile first agenda.
Facebook's news feed update is one of the first major announcements that put a focus on ways to improve the mobile experience. By offering a streamlined, photo friendly platform, Facebook has proved to users that they know how Facebook is being used.
The problem is, even if Facebook appeases users it doesn't make money off of them. The social network only performs well when advertisers like their product.
It's hard to talk about Facebook the company without talking about advertisers. They are the ones that pay to keep the lights on at Facebook HQ. And no matter how much consumers use the social network it's the advertisers who keep Mark Zuckerberg's company spinning.
No matter what consumers think about a product redesign, they only make up half the narrative. The real issue for Facebook is appeasing the brands that pay its bills. And with the new news feed, Facebook is now offering advertisers a better option to get their brand in front of Facebook users.
Take for instance the recently added news feed category titled "Following". The category gives advertisers a personal space to showcase a brands Pages profile. It gives brands prime real estate while also reducing the potential for consumer news feeds to get clogged with glorified ads.
If you're an advertiser the last thing you want is your consumer to be annoyed by you. So by getting their own special news space, on both mobile and desktop platforms, advertisers now have the chance to peddle their brands to consumers without bugging them.
The secret to making money on the internet these days is adverting and mobile growth. By updating its newsfeed Facebook made a big step in getting better at those things. Now it will be interesting to see what the social network does next.
18 Jan 2013
People memorise Facebook posts one and a half times better than they remember a books text, according to a new university study.
The findings come following an extensive study on human memory from the University of San Diego and the University of Warwick. Research from the two school's study was recently published in the Springer Journal Memory and Cognition.
"We were really surprised when we saw just how much stronger memory for Facebook posts was compared to other types of stimuli," said Laura Mickes of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick.
"These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory."
According to the study, the huge gap in memory cognition comes from the fact that books are much more mentally intensive and isolating. The study reported that because Facebook posts comes from people you know and are short they are easier to remember.
Because people share rewards and news of potential threats with each other it makes sense that you'd remember a Facebook post, at least from an evolutionary standpoint.
"Facebook is updated roughly 30 million times an hour so it's easy to dismiss it as full of mundane, trivial bits of information that we will instantly forget as soon as we read them," continued Mickes.
"But our study turns that view on its head, and by doing so gives us a really useful glimpse into the kinds of information we're hardwired to remember.
If nothing else, the new information should peak marketers interest. Knowing people are more adept at remembering Facebook posts means sponsored stories ads may actually be valuable.