Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On "The Social Network", Part 2 (English)

In Part 1, I started talking about “exclusivity” and how people seem to find themselves strangely attracted to all things “limited” and “off-limits”. I’m no psychologist, but I read that Abraham Maslow included “the desire to belong” as one of the Hierarchy of Needs.

There are many reasons why Facebook became the runaway success that it did, but during the earliest stages, I believe the utilization of exclusivity and drawing on basic human need to belong played a major part. In that respect at least, the Winklevoss brothers were on the money (with their plans to leverage the “Harvard” and “Ivy League” brand in their new social website), and you could say Zuckerberg did well to take note of that.

So to sum up, during the introduction stage of any product, sometimes it is better not to make it ‘open-to-all’, but have it available to the select few who can then invite others. Such ‘by invitation only’ can, paradoxically, have the long term result of having the widest reach.

4. The principle of “release early and iterate” is again at work here. Facebook, Gmail, iPhone.. there is a long list of successful products that were initially released at ‘beta’ stage and then continued to improve with iteration after iteration of updates. This, more than anything else, is what set Facebook apart from Cyworld and all the other social network services that came before and after it.

5. The importance of a good team, and meeting the right people at the right time. When Zuckerberg first launched his site, he knew he was onto something big. To borrow Park Kyungcheol’s words, he knew he was starting the “next W”. Although he didn’t realize the full extent of Facebook’s reach, we can get a glimpse of his ‘vision’ when he refused to monetize the site with banner ads, insisting that ‘keeping the site cool’ was more important. In this regard, his college friend and co-founder Eduardo Saverin was a liability, in that he couldn’t accept Zuckerberg's vision. In stark contrast, Sean Parker, the creator of Napster who Zuckerberg meets though a friend’s introduction, not only agrees with Zuckerberg’s version of how things are, he goes on to convince him that actually, things are bigger than he could have imagined. I believe Zuckerberg’s early encounter with Sean Parker, a veteran in technological entrepreneurship and who understood how the Internet still had the potential to change the world, is by far the single biggest factor in determining Facebook’s success today. O that I would have such mentors and co-founders! Looking for my 麦わらの一味。

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