Isn’t news supposed to slow down near the holidays?
One of the original Web colossi, Yahoo, continues struggling against its own downward spiral, cutting away at least 600 employees and shutting down a half dozen services, including social bookmarking site Delicious. Meanwhile, high flying startup Twitter picked up its largest funding round yet, $200 million at a $3.7 billion valuation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Then there’s Facebook, a company that could probably warrant an entire blog just to its updates. Oh wait, there are a couple of those. Here are the most important updates and news bits related to everyone’s favorite social network.
Person of the Year
Joining the ranks of U.S. presidents like Barack Obama (2008) and George W. Bush (2000, 2004) and generic blanket identities like “You” (2006) and the “American Soldier” (2003), CEO and founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg was named Time’s Person of the Year 2010.
For connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them, for creating a new system of exchanging information and for changing how we live our lives, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is TIME's 2010 Person of the Year.
Time actually upset some circles because the people’s choice for Person of the Year was Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Assange got 382,026 votes, almost 150,000 more votes than the runner-up, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey. Nobody should be upset, though, since the magazine explicitly says that “the editors who choose the actual Person of the Year reserve the right to disagree.”
$2 billion revenue in 2010?
The other half of the Twitter fundraising story this week usually goes something like this: “so.. how are they going to make money, again?” Not so with Facebook, apparently.
The company is poised to generate $2 billion in revenue for 2010, more than doubling 2009 revenue, according to sources cited by Bloomberg. In 2009, Facebook made somewhere between $700 and $800 million and projections for this year said the company would make about $1.5 billion.
With well over 500 million users (I’m going to guess 550 million by now), Facebook has no problem attracting big-name brands looking to advertise, so the 2010 revenue estimate isn’t really surprising. Is that enough to match the company’s constantly skyrocketing valuation? Last time we checked, it had tipped over $50 billion.
Face recognition in photos
Facebook, always being called out for invading privacy, is pretty much the online king of creeping people out. Here's another one: an engineer at Facebook took a moment to update us on one of the newest additions to the Photos portion of the site: face-recognition tagging technology.
Similar to the face-recognition feature in iPhoto and other applications, the new tool automatically groups together similar faces in a photo album and asks the user to fill in their names. Albums often highlight one specific event or trip, which means that the photos will often have a lot of the same friends popping up repeatedly. For an album with more than 50 or 100 photos, a feature that automatically tags most of the faces could be a life saver.
Finally, Facebook went down for about a half hour on Thursday because several products went public for customers in advance of the planned launch date. One of these products, “Memories,” lets users explore their entire history on Facebook--comments, photos, likes, relationships, everything. It actually makes a lot of sense. Right now, the best way to explore old wall posts, for example, is to scroll down on the Facebook profile until the exact post is found--or until eternity, whichever comes first. Hopefully, Memories includes a search option.