If you've ever wondered how Facebook was going to make its billions and take over the world, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid it all out this morning.
In short...why leave?
"We wanted to design a place that feels like your home," Zuckerberg told thousands of developers at the company's F8 Conference. "Where you tell your story online is really personal. You invest a lot of time in it; you curate it. You link to it, and you tell all your friends to find you there. So we wanted to make Timeline (the new profile page Facebook announced) a place that you're proud to call your home."
Facebook for life
Yeah, maybe you already feel like you live on Facebook -- and maybe you really do -- but the deals with other media companies announced today make it more likely that Facebook will weave through your life more directly.
Someday it may be perfectly common (if it's not already) for us to have Facebook profiles from the moment we're born through the end of our lives, documenting everything along the way.
That complete timeline is called, aptly enough, the Timeline, replacing the old Facebook profiles. It offers a larger, personalized picture at the top, kind of like what newspapers would call a "masthead," followed by a running summation of all your posts, pictures, maps and activities. The most important things would stand out, as judged by the site's new algorithms, though everything would be available, per your privacy settings (which Zuckerberg did not talk much about during his keynote).
"Timeline is the story of your life," Zuckerberg said, "and it has three pieces: all your stories, all your apps, and a new way to express who you are."
Last week marked the first time that the site's traffic reached a half billion daily users. The site's apps and that "new way" of expression will likely be key to how Facebook will make those users even more valuable to advertisers and developers. Plus, the website can more accurately describe exactly what you do and how you use Facebook.
The verbs that make money
"Spotify users who connect to Facebook listen... to a wider variety of music," said Spotify CEO Daniel Elk, who spoke during the keynote. "And because they're more engaged, they're also more than twice as likely to pay for music." With 400 million user playlists, that's a lot of data on listeners' activities that can now, potentially, become social.
No longer is Facebook limited to verbs like "friend" or "like." Now it can say what you "watched," "played," "cooked," "hiked" and so on. That means companies like Spotify, which are integrating updated apps into Facebook, can detail your actions more discreetly -- possibly to influence your friends into doing the same thing.
Netflix and Hulu are also integrating into Facebook, to the point where you can watch programs directly on that site without logging off. So if your friends are watching something, you can also watch it, just by clicking.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who also spoke at the keynote, says he was skeptical about giving Facebook so much access to its vast subscriber base. That is, until he realized how lucrative social integration could be.
"Finally I asked (Zuckerberg), you know, 'what is success for you in this interaction, Mark?' And he said, 'well, how big do you think you're going to grow next year?' And I said, 'x.' And he said, 'success for Facebook is if Netflix grows to 2x. Then, many other firms will also become social.'"
Entrepreneurs and developers will learn all about how to make this happen as the F8 conference continues today. And analysts will likely factor this dramatic Facebook revision into their predictions for the company's future. Remember, we still don't know exactly how much Facebook is worth, and when (if ever) it will go public.
Timeline is expected to roll out in the next two to three weeks.