A billion has always been a lofty number for anyone one to achieve at any level of business but for the Mark Zuckerberg’s of this world a number in every way challenging yet achievable. You have to believe that if you want to reach any goal. You have to see yourself there. In all likelihood Zuckerberg has exponentially gotten there financially and in terms of company reach, he has achieved that magic number on a scale that perhaps seems unimaginable. But the Facebook founder has an unimaginable imagination, which is a fitting trait for the young billionaire. Thursday, the business mogul announced that his company has reached an unprecedented milestone: one billion users.
Yep, the social network birthed in a Harvard dorm grew in eight short years to a membership that it says accounts for nearly one seventh of the world’s population. Not fake users or bots — which Facebook tracks closely — but real humans who actively engage on the social network, a company spokesperson announced on TODAY.
Just so we’re clear: As of Sept. 14, one in seven people on this planet has been classified as an active Facebook user.
Since Facebook launched, the social network’s seen 1.18 trillion “likes” and 140.4 billion friend connections. There are 219 billion photos currently being shared, while 17 billion check-ins have been made. Since the music listening app launched in September 2011, 62.6 million songs have been played 22 billion times — that’s around 210,000 years of music.
And while Zuckerberg may have a responsibility to investors to publicly boast Facebook’s accomplishments, this gives us an opportunity to wrap our heads around exactly what 1 billion means.
In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, Zuckerberg said the 8-year-old company added 200 million new users in the last year and called having a billion users across the world “an amazing honor.”
If Facebook was a country, it would have the third largest population, right behind China (1,347,350,000) and India (1,210,200,000), and ahead of the United States (314,500,000).
If Facebook existed in 1804 — precisely when the world population hit 1 billion — everyone on Earth would have a profile: Thomas Jefferson, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Jane Austen … and every other living soul.
What may be more staggering than the “1 billion users” milestone is how quickly Facebook reached it.
“I don’t think in the history of the world that there’s been a single medium that’s amassed a billion users as fast as Facebook did,” Steve Rubel told TODAY.com, though one can say that Mark Zuckerberg is in great company as the social network has equaled the number of years it took Ray Kroc to serve 1 billion hamburgers; eight.
McDonalds began posting the number of total hamburgers sold, on it’s signs in 1955 when Ray Kroc bought his first McDonald’s franchise in Des Plains Illinois. At that time the number on the sign was Over 1 Million Served.
McDonald’s Sign Milestones
1955- 1 million (Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s opens in Illinois)
1956- 5 million
1960- 400 million
1963- 1 Billion (served by Ray Kroc himself on national tv)
Radio, television, even mobile phones — Rubel notes none of these were adopted at the rapid global rate comparable to Facebook’s eight year rise. “Considering I struggle to think of anything that touches as many people as much as Facebook does,” he said. “Maybe water …”
“To be able to come into work every day and build things that help a billion people stay connected with the people they care about every month, that’s just unbelievable,” Zuckerberg said in an interview airing Thursday morning on Today and on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams at 10pm/9c.
Despite the excitement of crossing the billion mark, Zuckerberg acknowledged the company’s leadership and its staff have been in a “tough cycle” in the months since the company’s initial public offering in May.
Valued at $100 billion when it went public, Facebook is now worth nearly half that. The social network has faced new scrutiny from its users and investors over how it plans to make money from those billion users, especially the ones who access Facebook through mobile devices.
“Things go in cycles. We’re obviously in a tough cycle now and that doesn’t help morale, but at the same time, you know, people here are focused on the things that they’re building,” said Zuckerberg of his staff. “I mean, you get to build things here that touch a billion people, which is just not something that you can say at almost anywhere else, so I think that’s really the thing that motivates people.”
The drop in the company’s value has left many questioning if the 28-year-old tech visionary has the business know-how to be CEO.
“I take this responsibility that I have really seriously and I really think Facebook needs to be focused on building the best experiences for people around the world, right? And we have this philosophy that building the products and services and building the business go hand in hand,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg said that he and his team are focusing on growing the number of people who use Facebook on mobile devices, such as smartphones, a move that he says will make money and respond to the changing needs of their users.
“There’s five billion people in the world who have phones, so we should be able to serve many more people and grow the user base there,” Zuckerberg said.
Of his strategy as CEO, Zuckerberg said that he has taken a few lessons from his late friend, Apple founder Steve Jobs.
“I mean, he was just so focused, right? I mean for him, the user experience was the main thing that mattered, the only thing that mattered and I think that there’s a lot that every company can learn from that,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of that philosophy too, which is we just want to stay maniacally focused on building the best product for those people and I think that’s the path to building a great business and, you know, I think that’s something that Steve understood more than most.”
Facebook had 955 million active users in July 2012, and though gaining 45 million users is not a small task, it seems as if the world’s biggest online social network took a little bit more time than expected reaching the 1 billion milestone.