Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held the company's second annual developers conference in San Francisco Wednesday, presenting his latest vision for the web site that now has 90 million users.
Zuckerberg gave a Steve Jobs MacWorld-esque presentation to the 1,400 programmers of applications for the site who gathered, replete with a live demonstration of the site and video comic relief. (Zuckerberg played the now popular clip of Fox's Bill O'Reilly flipping out on camera, shouting "Let's do it live," a motto Zuckerberg adopted for the presentation.
Right after the presentation Zuckerberg sat down exclusively with me for a one-on-one interview, revealing his intention to grow the site, which currently ads a million users a week, for a few more years before really worrying about revenue. Now he's focused on giving users more powerful tools to help people share with each other and rewarding applications that help people share. Seeing a theme here? He also wants to "get the community (users) and ecosystem (the application developers) aligned," so its model in which people world-wide develop applications for the Palo Alto-based site is sustainable.
But first, 24-year-old Zuckerberg addressed the audience packed with 20-something computer programmers not as if he were conducting an annual shareholder meeting, but like he was leading a revolution. Which perhaps he is. "Last year we started a movement", he said referring to the company opening is platform a year ago, so anyone could develop an application for the site. Now the site hosts 24,000 from 400,000 developers. Zuckerberg emphasized and reemphasized that the goal of the site isn't to make money or inspire commerce, but to "unlock all the ways people share information." This year the site aims to make the site better express yourself, and better understand who your friends are. He spoke to a generation that grew up in this 24-7 information-packed global economy, saying "we want to extend moments of presence." The company's new motto: "Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected."
Zuckerberg walked the audience through the new site. At first glance it doesn't look very different but a little clicking around reveals a range of new tabs that make it easier to navigate. And now you can post something on your page from a certain application without having to add the application itself.
But most exciting is "Facebook Connect", which brings Facebook's social connections to sites across the web. Facebook Connect was announced in May, but the details, and the partners were only revealed yesterday. With 20 partners including Digg, Citysearch, and even content sites like Hulu, Facebook users can log into their Facebook profile on these sites, bringing their friend connections with them.
This can be incredibly useful, say on Citysearch where you'd much rather see the restaurant reviews your friends write than those some random stranger has. And you bring your privacy settings with you, so you're only sharing your reviews or "Digging" your favorite articles to those on your list. And then there's the capability to bring bits of information from any of these sites back to Facebook. You can post a link to your favorite Hulu video or the first paragraph of a funny article. It's effectively applying the lens of Facebook across the web, so pretty much everything you do online can be seen through *your* social filter. And then everything you do online can be brought back to your facebook profile.
What about revenues? Let's just say they taking a backseat. The new site allows Facebook to experiment slightly with the presentation of ads, but the redesign isn't about eking out a profit from its users. Is the ostensible $15 billion valuation, based on Microsoft'sinvestment, putting pressure on the company? Apparently not. Zuckerberg summed it up when he said to me that since they're not a public company they're worrying about revenue streams right now. For the next few years they'll focus on the customer, and then they'll go from there. But check out the interview- Zuckerberg puts it best himself.
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