free html hit counter FaceBook as the New Google - John Battelle's Search Blog

FaceBook as the New Google

By - June 19, 2007


Well, perhaps really, the new (anti) portal. Paul posts a portion of an email from an ex-Googler who left for Facebook.

A couple of months ago, after three years as a Google product manager, I decided to leave for Facebook. I am writing this note to spread Good News to all the friends I haven’t already overwhelmed with my enthusiasm: Facebook really is That company.

Which company? That one. That company that shows up once in a very long while — the Google of yesterday, the Microsoft of long ago. That company where large numbers of stunningly-brilliant people congregate and feed off each other’s genius. That company that’s doing with 60 engineers what teams of 600 can’t pull off. That company that’s on the cusp of Changing The World, that’s still small enough where each employee has a huge impact on the organization, where you think about working now and again, and where you know you’ll kick yourself in three years if you don’t jump on the bandwagon now, even after someone had told you that it was rolling toward the promised land. That company where everyone seems to be having the time of their life.

I’m serious. I have drunk from the kool-aid, and it is delicious.

The fellow goes on to ask folks to join him at Facebook.

We’ve all been thinking about Facebook a lot lately, and many of us have been using it, as it’s impossible not to thanks to the onslaught of industry folk who are giving it a whirl and inviting you in. It’s a slick application and the open approach to plugins is brilliant in its simplicity. But the real question, if the future of the site is as a next generation “anti-portal” is to address the question of how to appropriately integrate the conversation of marketing into the site.

That’s a question I’ve thought about a lot, as those of you with patience for my ramblings know. I’m looking forward to using Facebook more, as I figure the more I use it, the more ideas I might have to share here.

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8 thoughts on “FaceBook as the New Google

  1. JG says:

    But the real question, if the future of the site is as a next generation “anti-portal” is to address the question of how to appropriately integrate the conversation of marketing into the site.

    Maybe I am stuck in the web world of 1993 (my first experience with Mosaic), when there was no advertising. Or maybe I am stuck in the social network online world of 1983 (the first time I used PLATO), when there was no advertising.

    But why, I must passionately (but to many of you annoyingly) ask, must there be this inexorable march toward “integrat[ing] the conversation of marketing” into everything we do online? Is it too naive of me to think that, somehow, somewhere, people might just want to connect with other people…without having someone constantly try to sell you something? Perhaps I am too idealistic and/or naive, to even consider thinking this way.

    On a separate thread: I find it innaresting that someone is already referring to a new company as the “Google of yesterday”. I thought all that 20% time and “startup mentality” that Google fosters was still rolling strong? Is this no longer the case?

  2. Myra says:

    Honestly, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even see ads anymore, even those on my own website!

  3. Sergey Brin says:

    You ought to apply and find out.

  4. Rodney Rumford says:

    Great post. To address the following “But the real question, if the future of the site is as a next generation “anti-portal” is to address the question of how to appropriately integrate the conversation of marketing into the site.”

    I do not think of it as an anti-portal… rather i look at facebook as a place where I can accomplish useful tasks, connect with people, become exposed to things(knowledge) in a non-search way; that is influenced loosely by my network.

    The conversation of marketing already is happening, just not in the traditional sense. Apps builders can integrate marketing into their apps… if people are annoyed by the apps (and associated marketing) they simply disable the application.

    There is also the “Word of Mouth Marketing” that is occurring simply by people’s behaviors being exposed to friends (I know what movies my friends want to go see and what books they recommend).

    Facebook already has flyers and advertising that can be purchased and shown to geo specific groups. Companies such as Southwest already have a huge presences in the form of a sponsored group. The ads that are currently being shown are not heavy handed, and in time they will become more specific to my behaviours.

    Applications on facebook will take many different models for revenue generation. These models are already surfacing. Join the facebook Applications Group:

    We are publishing rating and reviews of these new facebook applications as they merit at

    Rodney Rumford

  5. JG says:

    Myra: That sounds terrible! You’re not even seeing the ads? So then what is the point of even having ads at all? They’re just taking up valuable space on your website, space that could better be used to serve your visitors.

    I know what you are really trying to say, though. You’re trying to say that the advertising is purposely unobstrusive, and yet still relevant, and so that makes it ok. That’s the standard party line.

    Well, let me make a little analogy. When you go to the pub, what do you go there for? You go to hang out with friends, relax, drink a little, play pool or darts, tell stories, catch up on each others’ lives. Right? And maybe do some flirting and meet a few people.

    Well, I noticed a trend starting about 10 or 12 years ago. Sometimes at pubs there will be a woman, sitting near a high-traffic area. She’ll obviously be strikingly attractive and friendly. But she won’t go out of her way to make her presence known. She’ll make a little eye contact here or there. And strike up a little innocuous conversation, here or there. Things to which most men at bars are not averse. But then at some point during the conversation, she’ll ask if you’ve tried some drink or mixer. And perhaps even offer you a sample. Then you’ll notice the logo from her company plastered somewhere.. on the back of her shirt, on the tray with her samples, etc.

    At that point, you’ll realize she wasn’t really flirting, that she wasn’t really there to hang out and meet new people. She is there to sell. She is an underground or guerilla marketer.

    To me, that totally ruins the whole bar experience. Even though this person is not standing up on a table with a bullhorn, shouting out the name of the product (i.e. she’s not acting like a “graphical banner ad”), the fact that this person is taking advantage of the social graces of pub revelers, by pretending to be a part of the social scene, really rubs me the wrong way.

    The analogy is to things like AdSense, and to statements like “integrat[ing] the conversation of marketing” into Facebook. These things are interlopers. An AdSense ad pretends to be part of the content of the webpage on which it is hosted. In fact, many webmasters purposely do all they can to make sure the ads look like normal content, like regular pub-goers. These ads then catch your eye, flirt a little, and pretend to engage you. Ultimately, however, you realize they are not part of the normal social scene, the normal web page. They are trying to sell you something.

    Yes, yes, yes. I know. AdSense ads are disclosed, and properly labeled as “ads from Google”. But so is that guerilla marketer – she has the “bacardi” logo on the back of her shirt. You just don’t really notice it, because she’s too busy catching your eye and smiling.

    Webmasters love the ads, because they bring in money, the same way bar owners love the guerilla marketers, because I’m sure the bar owners get a cut, too. And guerilla marketers can make the same rationalizations as AdSense ads, i.e. they can also claim “relevance”. People are in a bar, bars are places where alcohol is consumed, and the marketers are pushing alcohol. Therefore, their placement in bars is “relevant”, the same way AdSense ads are “relevant”, right?

    Still, something about this whole new trend in American society (which has of course spread outwards) is disturbing. It is not where I want to see our culture headed, where underground marketers or AdSense ads are embedded into every possible interaction we have on a daily basis. And yet there seems to be no way to stop it.

  6. Erica says:

    The reason people are excited about Facebook is that it has not yet had an IPO or been acquired. This is a chance for the lottery ticket. Any serious analysis must consider this.

  7. yitz.. says:

    facebook still has many many kinks to work out.. i get annoying emails all the time about information i would have noticed when i logged in anyways, and all the things that happen that aren’t clearly visible when I log in don’t generate emails either..

  8. johnny says:

    Hi, we’ve opened a facebook group to discuss and get ahead the developments in this regard, which is, we all know, important not to misss :))

    look for “Facebook, the New Google”

    see you there,