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nyt interview with zuckerberg about innovation

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Over the last couple years you’ve done some big new things like Home and Graph Search that didn’t really work. And the other thing you’ve done is bought a lot of companies that do seem to have worked, like Instagram and WhatsApp. Are you creating enough new stuff? How do you feel about how innovative Facebook is?

Mark Zuckerberg's answer:

With Graph Search, I think that modern search products have so much built into them that we knew it was going to be a five-year investment before we got anything really good and different. So far we’ve done these milestones. The first one was that we were able to search over structured connections on Facebook. That was important as a consumer product and also as infrastructure that we are using inside the company. The next focus is searching posts. All of this has been on desktop, and the real push is mobile. So I’m not that worried about it. I think the real question will be how effective it will be on mobile once post-search works. I think that’s a five-year thing. We have to think about it over a longer period of time.

With Home, the reception was much slower than we expected. But it was a riskier thing. It’s very different from other apps, let’s say Paper or Messenger. For those, you install it, and if it’s useful you’ll go back to it and use it. Home is your lock screen. When you install it, it’s really active, and if it does anything that you don’t like, then you’ll uninstall it.

The other thing that is important context to keep in mind is that, to some extent, most of these new things that we’re doing aren’t going to move any needles in our business for a very long time. The main Facebook usage is so big. About 20 percent of the time people spend on their phone is on Facebook. From that perspective, Messenger or Paper can do extremely well but they won’t move any needles.

My favorite Mark Zuckerberg quote from the article:

"Understanding who you serve is always a very important problem, and it only gets harder the more people you serve."

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