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A decade of Facebook: 10 interesting things you don’t know about the social network

2:37AM | Tuesday, 4 February

Facebook is 10 years old today. It’s time for birthday celebrations for the social network with 12,800,000 Australian users and 1.19 billion users worldwide. But it’s also time to reflect on 10 interesting things you don’t know about the social network.   1. The social network makes more money now from mobiles than PCs   Facebook is worth around $US135 billion and has successfully made the shift to focusing on mobiles. In Facebook’s fourth quarter earning report filed on January 29 this year the social network disclosed that for the first time sales from ads on mobile phones and tablets exceeded revenue from traditional PCs.   In an interview marking Facebook’s 10th birthday, founder Mark Zuckerberg told Bloomberg the shift to mobile was “not as quick as it should have been”, but “one of the things that characterizes our company is that we are pretty strong-willed”.   2. Facebook tried to buy Snapchat   In 2012 Facebook bought Instagram for $US1 billion even though the photo sharing app had no revenue source. Zuckerberg described the deal as a milestone, saying "we don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all"; but last year, Facebook reportedly offered $3 billion to buy Snapchat. On two occasions. Snapchat refused the offer.   3. Paper has just launched   Facebook’s latest creation is a newspaper-style app called Paper. Paper includes photos, friend updates, and shared articles in an image-heavy, uncluttered way. The stories are picked and ordered based largely on how much they are shared and “liked” on Facebook, with a team of human editors ensuring that the content comes from the right sources.   “Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and full-screen, distraction-free layouts,” Facebook states.   4. Zuckerberg and Facebook are all about goals   Zuckerberg told Bloomberg he has lots of goals for Facebook and for himself personally. Facebook’s founder has in previous years vowed to learn Mandarin (2010), to eat only animals he slaughtered himself (2011), and to meet someone new each day (2013). For 2014 he intends to write at least one well-considered thank-you note every day, via email or handwritten letter.   “It’s important for me, because I’m a really critical person,” he says. “I always kind of see how I want things to be better, and I’m generally not happy with how things are, or the level of service that we’re providing for people, or the quality of the teams that we built. But if you look at this objectively, we’re doing so well on so many of these things. I think it’s important to have gratitude for that.”   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 5. Voting is the most talked about topic on Facebook   The 10 most talked about topics on Facebook in 2013 by Australian users were ‘vote’, Kate Middleton, cricket, Kevin Rudd, Grand Final, Election, GST, Lions, Tony Abbott and Big Brother.   6. It’s set to compete with Google   Over the next five years, Zuckerberg wants Facebook to become more intuitive and to solve problems that in some cases users don’t even know they have.   He wants to target the 5% and 10% of posts on Facebook where users pose questions to their friends, such as requests for the names for a good local dentist, or the best Indian restaurant.   Zuckerberg told Bloomberg the social network should do better at harvesting all that data to provide answers. A domain which is traditionally the preserve of search giant Google.   7. Users are a devoted bunch   Facebook users generally log in to the social network regularly and stay for long periods of time. The percentage of Facebook users that log in once a day is now 76% while the average time spent on Facebook per user per month is 8.3 hours.   8. Facebook is targeting developing countries   Facebook is targeting developing countries through the formation of a group called Internet.org with six other technology companies, including Samsung, Qualcomm and Ericsson.   The group is looking at simplifying their services so they can be delivered more economically over primitive wireless networks and tapped into using cheaper phones.   Zuckerberg says more users in undeveloped countries will subscribe to mobile services for the opportunity to use Facebook, which in turn makes it more economical for mobile operators to improve their wireless networks to support higher-bandwidth services such as online education and banking.   He has described early tests as “promising”.   9. Doomsayers warn Facebook could go into rapid decline   Researchers from Princeton University published a paper earlier this year suggesting Facebook might lose 80% of its users by 2017 entering a period of “rapid decline”.   “The application of disease-like dynamics to [online social network] adoption follows intuitively, since users typically join OSNs because their friends have already joined,” says the study, which is awaiting peer review.   Facebook has hit back at the work as “incredibly speculative” and used its own data engineers to use the same methods of "scholarly scholarliness" to prove that Princeton itself was on the brink of extinction.   10. It’s king of social referred traffic   Facebook is still the king for social referred traffic, according to Adobe’s most recent social intelligence report.   But Facebook is slowly losing ground to other social media, in particular Twitter and Pinterest.

Funds, financing and venture capital: the key stories from 2013

1:45PM | Sunday, 5 January

This year was a good one for start-up investment. Globally, early stage seed funding rose by 375% and the local industry welcomed some new funds, along with the rise of crowd funding and the coming wave of crowdsourced equity.   Here are some of the most notable investment stories of 2013:   State of the venture capital scene at the end of 2013   Over 60 venture capital industry leaders gathered for an event held by PricewaterhouseCoopers in October to explore the state of the sector and possible future directions. StartupSmart was there and reported on the event here.   Kar-Mei Tang, head of research at national venture capital industry association AVCAL, told the room the sector was set for significant changes in the coming years as the start-up ecosystem developed.   “The start-up sector has been an emerging force over the last three years and we’re starting to see more founder investors and super angel activity which will filter through to venture capital,” Tang said.   New major firm Square Peg Capital launches   Two investment groups merged to form Square Peg Capital, an initiative with Seek co-founder Paul Bassat. He told StartupSmart they were keen to fill the Series A and B gap in the local funding scene.   “We’ve got the capacity to invest several hundred million dollars over the next few years,” Bassat says. “We have a really good pipeline at the moment. Our investments so far give some indication of the opportunity; although it’s possible we’ll make slightly fewer investments but they’re likely to be a bit larger.”   The two funds prior to the merger had invested $20 million in 12 companies including Canva, NinjaBlocks, bellabox and Vend.   Investment insights   Global investment trends indicated the venture capital and games boom may be ending, with leading start-up investor Jonathan Teo visiting Australia in late 2013, and shared which metrics he cares about when assessing start-ups, and why he backed Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.   Blue Sky Alternative investments launched a $10 million fund earlier in the year. Their venture director Dr Elaine Stead shared what they look for in the start-ups they back and how the venture capital industry is changing.   Blackbird Ventures also launched this year, and have made 11 investments so far. Managing director Rick Baker shared their insights and investment preferences here.    Crowdfunding and interest in crowdfunded equity skyrocketed   While crowdfunding continues to boom, interest and opportunities for start-ups to explore crowdfunded equity are also increasing, with a new platform launching in December, and visiting Israeli investment expert telling investors the world needed to brace itself for an “unstoppable wave” of crowdfunded equity.    Australian start-ups announcing investments almost weekly   As the start-up ecosystem matures, more and more Australian start-ups are announcing investment deals and expanding internationally.   There are too many deals to list them all here, but notable technology start-up deals include Zenogen, BugCrowd, Recruitloop, Design Crowd, Kickfolio (now called App.io), Kounta, BuyReply, Ingogo, Tiger Pistol, Paws for Life, CoinJar and LiquidState.   For those aspiring to raise investment in 2014, we spoke to one of the Kaggle founders about how they raised $11 million in a few weeks in Silicon Valley and from veteran start-up consultant and investor about his top five tips to genuinely prepare your start-up for investment.

Stay lean as you climb to the top

7:56AM | Friday, 5 July

This article was first published on April 11, 2012.   One of the things that struck me about Facebook’s $US1 billion takeover of photo app maker Instagram was just how few people the company had – just 13 full time employees, who will share in a bonus pool of $US 100 million as a result of the deal.   Now, Instagram is just two years old, so the fact it has just 13 employees isn’t remarkable. But when a business is worth $US 1 billion, it will generally have many times this number of employees. You could host the Instagram Christmas party in a phone box!   Instagram has stayed lean by focusing very tightly on its core function – creating a great app. Most of its staff are engineers and the business development side of the company was slower to start. This is underlined by the fact it is still not profitable.   The company’s founders say they have not been “lean” for the sake of it. Instead, they have focused on being nimble – that is, keeping up with technological changes and growth. And they’ve hired according to this mission.   Tech start-ups are different of course – many of you would need to hire business development or sales people much earlier than Instagram has needed to, just to keep the doors open.   But the way the Instagram has focused very tightly on the its core mission – and built its team around this – is impressive.   Get it done – today!

Be proud of your budgetary discipline

5:06AM | Monday, 13 May

This article first appeared on November 20th, 2012.   Recently, I managed to shock a few people over lunch by telling the tale of when I haggled with a salesperson over the price of a fare back from the airport.   “Sure, that young sales rep should have taken more personal responsibility. But haggling over the couple of dollars difference between a two-hour ticket and a SkyBus? Sorry to say, but that’s just being a scrooge,” they say.   A scrooge? As a kid, while other kids were busy watching He-Man, Old Taskmaster stuck up a bedroom wall poster of Scrooge McDuck. Hand drawn on reused paper too. Being called a scrooge is an honour!   Of course, long-time Taskmaster readers will know how much fun cost-cutting competitions at work can be. And who wants to pay for a vicuñacino when an instant coffee does the same job? Especially when that instant coffee comes in a bulk container you bought from CostCo.   Some people seek to persecute the financially prudent amongst us who are inclined towards saving over spending. “Miser. Cheapskate. Skinflint. Moneygrubber. Penny-pincher, Tightwad. Cheap,” they say.   What these spendthrifts need to understand is that when you’re building a business funded by someone else’s hard-earned savings, a little budgetary care doesn’t go astray.   If you succeed in doing what Instagram’s founders did earlier this year – sell a lean start-up with 13 staff to Facebook for $US1 billion – it’s you, rather than the big spenders, who’ll be laughing in the end.   So don’t be shy about cutting your costs or saving your money. Instead, show some (fiscally disciplined) pride!   Get it done – today!

Revealed: Characteristics of $1 billion consumer tech companies

3:36AM | Friday, 15 March

The average age of companies that the owners sell at more than $1 billion is seven years, according to US venture capitalist Jacob Mullins, who has revealed the common characteristics of $1 billion consumer tech companies.

Instagram hits 100 million users – three things you can learn

2:27AM | Wednesday, 27 February

The co-founder of Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram has outlined key reasons for the company’s success, after hitting 100 million users since its launch in October 2010.

The business buzzwords set to dominate 2013

3:30AM | Friday, 15 March

YOLO. Swag. Totes. Although Generation Y has a great deal to answer for when it comes to questionable additions to the lexicon, it’s worth remembering that the business world also has its fair share of linguistic aberrations.

Instagram clarifies policy changes following user backlash

3:22AM | Monday, 11 March

Facebook-owned start-up Instagram has been forced to clarify changes to its privacy policy and terms of service, after users were led to believe their private photos would be sold to advertisers.

The start-up dilemma: Sell up or remain solo?

8:00AM | Wednesday, 1 August

It is a dilemma for every start-up. The business is set up with a vision, a small but talented team and it will make a difference in the marketplace.

The next social media wave: Five golden rules to follow

6:50PM | Wednesday, 20 June

Social media is a relatively cost effective tool that increasing numbers of Australian businesses, regardless of size or sector, are eagerly grasping.

Seven golden rules on the who, what and why of social media

6:29PM | Sunday, 3 June

Are you keen to hold your own when people talk about social media? Do you want to get to the bottom of all the tweets, likes, friends and pins people have been talking about lately?

Eight Australian sites nominated for 2012 Webby Awards

4:37AM | Saturday, 21 April

Eight Australian websites have been nominated for the 16th annual Webby Awards, which attracted 10,000 international entries, including Freelancer.com, Fervr.net and StreetAdvisor.com.

10 secrets to Instagram’s success

5:21AM | Wednesday, 2 May

It’s fair to say Instagram has dominated news headlines this week, after being acquired by Facebook for an astounding $US1 billion.

THE NEWS WRAP: Facebook buys Instagram for $US1 billion

4:24PM | Monday, 9 April

Facebook has announced a $US1 billion deal to buy popular smartphone photo-sharing application Instagram.

Nostalgic photo service an Insta success

9:08AM | Thursday, 8 September

In a bid to invoke nostalgia among consumers, US company Instagram has come up with a way of making photos spontaneous and tangible again.

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