SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Zuckerberg, like Facebook, is maturing. The soon-to-be 30-year-old CEO of the decade-old social networking company grew reflective as he stood before hundreds of app developers to announce a host of mobile features designed to put “people first.”
“We used to have this famous mantra, ‘move fast and break things,’” Zuckerberg said at Facebook’s f8 developer conference in San Francisco.
But moving quickly was sometimes so important that Facebook’s engineers would tolerate bugs, or push out products that were not always fully baked. Fixing the bugs, Zuckerberg said, “was slowing us down.” Backpedaling on features that didn’t work — or that users didn’t like — slowed things, too, though Zuckerberg did not mention that.
Facebook’s new mantra may not be as sexy. Zuckerberg pointed to a new sign that read “Move fast with stable infra,” as in infrastructure, and the audience laughed. Stability, it turns out, is the new maxim, and the era of breaking things is over.
Zuckerberg said he and other Facebook employees realized they had created a culture of quick-witted, fast-moving engineers who took pride in being “hackers” who consistently put the company’s best interests ahead of what users wanted.
Now, Zuckerberg says, the goal is “to build a culture of loving the people we serve that is as strong if not stronger than our culture of hacking at Facebook. I hope you can see the seeds of some of this today in what we are talking about.”
The last time Facebook held a conference for app developers was in 2011. That was before the company attracted 1.28 billion users, before it went public, before it began showing mobile advertisements and before it paid eye-popping amounts of money to acquire popular apps like Instagram and WhatsApp.
In the tech world, three years can be a lifetime. Facebook’s focus is now squarely on the mobile space, not just its own applications but those built by outside developers.
As part of its mobile, people-first focus, Facebook says it will let users log in to apps anonymously, without sharing their identities and personal information with mobile applications they don’t trust.
Facebook’s users can already use a “log in with Facebook” button to sign up for apps that let them listen to music, play games, read the news and monitor fitness activities. But using the button allows apps to access information related to the Facebook user’s identity.
With the anonymous login, Facebook will have information about users but the apps won’t. Zuckerberg said the feature will let more people try out apps they may not trust with their personal information. Developers can include the anonymous login as a feature, but they won’t have to.
The company is also launching controls that let people determine the types of information they share with apps when they want to use their Facebook identity to log in. Previously, apps could decide what information they wanted to access on people’s Facebook pages — such as people’s birthday, friends list or email address.
Analysts suspect Facebook’s evolution isn’t as much an epiphany about privacy as it is about Zuckerberg’ realization that the company has to ensure it holds on to its users.
Facebook also took the wraps off its long-awaited mobile advertising network, called “Audience Network,” a product that enables Facebook to sell ads in mobile applications besides its own.
The service will increase its competition with Google, which dominates the mobile advertising market and has its own ad network. Twitter is expected to announce its own, too.
Facebook’s share of the $9.7 billion U.S. mobile advertising market was 16 percent last year, according to eMarketer, compared with 41 percent for Google.