Michael C Hogan

Agile Product Development & Innovation Strategy

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Mark Zuckerberg Interview on Freakonomics Radio

http://freakonomics.com/podcast/mark-zuckerberg/

On Sunday Freakonomics published an interview with Mark Zuckerberg as part of the Freakonomics series on CEOs and the role of CEO. The Q&A provides broader perspective on the Facebook mission and aspects of how Zuckerberg thinks about connecting people, data, and running a company. It’s interesting to hear Zuckerberg discuss data privacy before the Cambridge Analytica information operations story (the interview was recorded last summer). The full transcript of the interview is posted on the Freakonomics website in addition to the audio.

A few of my favorite highlights:

  • Information that filters to us through friends is more influential than increased ability to access raw facts
  • Deciding [as a leader] to let people do things that you disagree with, because on principle you know it’s just going to free up more creativity
  • Openness and connectedness is not enough to bring people together, a different strategy is needed to achieve “more open, connected, and together”
  • If the objective is massive change, empowering people is the only way because doing it alone is impossible
  • Facebook runs multiple versions of the website at any given time to test the impact of new features


Here are a few passages in the interview that stood out, some corresponding to the highlights listed above.

Information that filters to us through friends is more influential than increased ability to access raw facts (about 1/3 of the way down):

ZUCKERBERG: …one of the things that I’ve found is that there’s this myth that I think a lot of people have; that if other people in other places just had better information, then they’d make better decisions. And I’ve generally found that that is not true… a bigger influence is actually who you know… and how they help you filter the information that you have.

Facebook runs multiple versions of the website at any given time to test the impact of new features (about 3/4 down):

DUBNER: …How many versions — or whatever the proper noun would be — of Facebook are running at any given time? 10,000

Deciding [as a leader] to let people do things that you disagree with, because on principle you know it’s just going to free up more creativity (in the last 1/4):

ZUCKERBERG: …a huge part of how Facebook works is giving a large amount of freedom to our engineers, the company, and to people who use the product to make with it what they will, and trusting people to do that.

For Zuckerberg’s perspective on “pivoting” see his last answer:

ZUCKERBERG: …you start with something; you find a niche; and then you can grow it to serve more people in that way.

If you’re interested on Zuckerberg’s public thoughts on data privacy pre-Cambridge Analytica look for Dubner’s question (about 1/2 way down):

DUBNER: Yeah, but I’m sure there are people who want you to share much more data about your users. Yes?