I have been a Facebook user since September 2008. I was the lead engineer on a smaller social network in early 2008, blogster.com, which had about 50,000 registered users at the time. I can relate to a lot of the community issues mentioned in the book.
Lately, I have been immersing myself in social network concepts, learning from the wins and losses of others. Here is what I got out of the Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg story.
Principly there is nothing new under the sun, just some do it better and quicker.
The story indicates that Mark got the idea from the Winklevoss twins. I am not going to side with who is right or wrong, but I will say this: I've had ideas in the past that were simmering, then someone says something or has a related idea that sparks a series of connections to complete my simmering idea. So who's idea is it? I think the Winklevoss's got a pretty good $65 million dollar deal out of their presupposed idea.
Lesson Learned: Move on your ideas even if it is being done. Larry and Sergey did it with Google in a sea of search engines, Mark did Facebook when other social networks were dominating the market. Just keep in mind that in your success you may have to share the profits. Don't be selfish.
It helps to be passionate, and get it out there quick.
It seemed Mark became a Lion let loose on a Gazelle, in the most positive sense of the analogy. He was passionate about bringing people together online in seen and unforeseen ways and he got the prototype up and working fast! Having smarts is a big plus too.
Lesson Learned: Get it working and to market as quick as possible. Put all your great feature ideas down, but don't let that hold you back from getting the core functionality out there and being used.
You don't want to grow too fast!
Mark learned from the Friendster problems of exponential growth. Rather than launching a system to the public, schools were added to the network as the growth could be maintained without downtime.
Lesson Learned: Covet the opportunity to work out bugs/issues with a few hundred users, rather than dealing with thousands. I want growth for our Newsroom system, but only at a rate that we can maintain our service and quality.
People don't adapt to change very well, and that is okay, sometimes.
Most of the time Facebook makes changes or adds features that are inherently good for the community. When people do adapt they don't want to go back. The whole privacy thing is tough to get right. I commend them for their responsiveness in this area.
Lesson Learned: I have found myself getting used to the way my development work-flow is, then someone will suggest a more efficient way of doing things. Immediately I am resistant because what I am doing works. Developers need to be okay with feedback. Often it is good feedback done in a negative way. Listen, take a deep breath, and be proactive in positive responses via communication and development. People are east to calm down if you communicate in a caring way.
People love pictures
I am amazed at how successful the picture app was for Facebook. It is true, go to a website and take all the pictures away, blah! Facebook translated the social desire to see each other online and made it easy to share, and there was no holding back.
Lesson Learned: Get pictures done right, that goes for video too.
My favorite part in the audio book was when Mark Zuckerberg was crying on the floor, then called the Post the next day to be morally honest regarding the investment issue. I loved the integrity. Very cool!