Chris Daniels, Facebook’s Menlo Park-based Vice President of Business Development, is a scheduled speaker at LeWeb Paris, an annual Internet conference that attracts some 3,500 people from around the globe. Daniels joined Facebook in 2011. Prior to that he spent five years at Microsoft, where, among other things, he was responsible for Bing mobile product management and online strategy. He recently spoke to Informilo Editor-in-Chief Jennifer L. Schenker about Facebook’s mobile focus, growth opportunities in emerging markets and Internet.org, an initiative launched in August by Facebook with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm, which seeks to make Internet access affordable to the billions of people without it.
Q: In less than a year, mobile has gone from being zero percent of Facebook’s advertising revenues to almost 50%. How is that changing the way the company thinks and operates and its strategy around partnerships?
A: On the advertising side it is true that mobile has become a bigger percentage of our business. But perhaps even more importantly is the growing role of mobile in the way we deliver our services to consumers. Over the last 18 months or so mobile has gone from being one of our products to becoming core to what we do, to being the best of our offerings.
Q: Last April Facebook acquired Parse, a Silicon Valley back-end-as-a-service start-up, as part of a big push to become more relevant to mobile developers. It is a new revenue stream for Facebook as the company is keeping Parse’s freemium revenue model. How does this fit in with your overall platform strategy?
A: The reason we acquired Parse is that we realized as we improved our own apps that developers have a lot of problems in this area and we could help them. We can help developers focus on building a great user experience since with Parse’s technology we take care of the back end. In addition to making it easier and faster to launch apps, Facebook integrations can make apps stickier when users add friends and Mobile App Install Ads helps developers reach and acquire new users at scale.
Q: Where do you see growth coming from?
A: Over 80% of our daily active users are outside of the U.S. and Canada. There is an awesome opportunity for people to access Facebook in places where they haven’t had it before, such as in emerging markets. Well over a billion additional people will be connected in the coming year in Asia and this is an enormous opportunity for us.
Q: What role is Facebook playing in helping bring new users online?
A: Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative. The partners are collaborating to develop and adopt technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. Internet.org is also looking at how to use data more efficiently. The partners will invest in tools that dramatically reduce the amount of data required to use most apps and the Internet. And the initiative will support development of sustainable new business models and services.
Q: Recent press reports say teenagers are using Facebook less and instead turning to Vine and other social media sites. How does Facebook stay relevant? What will it look like in 10 years’ time?
A: Social as a category is growing enormously. People are using more social apps and we remain a growing part of this growing market. Ten years on the Web is going to be even more social. We are going to be a big part of that and others will be too and that’s great.