One of the main factors curtailing Facebook's growth is the number of people who currently have access to the Internet. That—and his vision for connecting the *entire* world with his social network—is why CEO Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday night announced the launch of internet.org, what Facebook calls "a global partnership with the goal of making Internet access available to the next 5 billion people."
On his Facebook page Zuckerberg asks the question "Is connectivity a human right?" He links to a ten page manifesto of sorts on the topic—explaining his plan, discussing the state of Internet access, and explaining why he's so invested.
He writes: "1.15 billion people each month, but as we started thinking about connecting the next 5 billion, we realized something important: the vast majority of people in the world don't have access to the Internet. Today, only 2.7 billion people are online—a little more than one third of the world. That is growing by less than 9 percent a year, but that's slow considering how early we are in the Internet's development."
Zuckerberg volunteers the fact that Facebook has already invested more than $1 billion to "connect people in the developing world over the past few years, and we plan to do more." Pointing to the fact that the Internet now accounts for a larger percentage of GDP in many developed countries than agriculture and energy, he says flat-out that the Internet creates jobs.
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The CEO doesn't directly connect this initiative and Facebook's business potential, but it's pretty clear. For Facebook to maintain its growth trajectory, it needs a bigger audience of people with Internet access—either through the desktop, or increasingly through mobile devices.
The social network finished the second quarter with 1.15 billion monthly active users, up 21 percent from the prior year. In order to maintain that kind of growth—or the 27 percent growth it saw in daily active users in the second quarter, to 699 million people, the company simply needs a bigger pool to draw from.
On this project of expanding Internet access Facebook is collaborating with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, and Samsung, with plans to bring in "NGOs, academics, and experts" as well. These founding members of the organization "will develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online."