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Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges That Defined the Company That's Disrupting the World

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Facebook’s founding is legend: In a Harvard dorm, wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg invented a new way to connect with friends…and the rest is history. But for the people who actually molded this great idea into a game-changing $300 billion company, the experience was far more tumultuous and uncertain than we might expect.Mike Hoefflinger was one of those Facebook insiders. As a Facebook’s founding is legend: In a Harvard dorm, wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg invented a new way to connect with friends…and the rest is history. But for the people who actually molded this great idea into a game-changing $300 billion company, the experience was far more tumultuous and uncertain than we might expect.Mike Hoefflinger was one of those Facebook insiders. As a computer engineer turned marketing innovator who worked with COO Sheryl Sandberg, Hoefflinger had a front-row seat to the company’s growing pains, stumbles, and reinventions.Becoming Facebook tells the coming-of-age story of the now venerable giant. Filled with insights and anecdotes from crises averted and challenges solved, the book tracks the company’s development, uncovering lessons learned on its way to greatness: How Facebook recovered from its “disastrous” IPO How the growth team achieved the impossible Why Facebook’s News Feed ads were the company’s most important business decision ever How Google+ attacked and lost Why—and how—Instagram and WhatsApp were added to the mix What the company does to win the talent wars What makes Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Cox, and other A-teamers tick Which products and technical advancements are on the horizon and why And much more Intimate, fast-paced, and deeply informative, Becoming Facebook shares the true story of how Zuckerberg joined the ranks of iconic CEOs like Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos—as Facebook grows up, overcomes setbacks, and works to connect the world.


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Facebook’s founding is legend: In a Harvard dorm, wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg invented a new way to connect with friends…and the rest is history. But for the people who actually molded this great idea into a game-changing $300 billion company, the experience was far more tumultuous and uncertain than we might expect.Mike Hoefflinger was one of those Facebook insiders. As a Facebook’s founding is legend: In a Harvard dorm, wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg invented a new way to connect with friends…and the rest is history. But for the people who actually molded this great idea into a game-changing $300 billion company, the experience was far more tumultuous and uncertain than we might expect.Mike Hoefflinger was one of those Facebook insiders. As a computer engineer turned marketing innovator who worked with COO Sheryl Sandberg, Hoefflinger had a front-row seat to the company’s growing pains, stumbles, and reinventions.Becoming Facebook tells the coming-of-age story of the now venerable giant. Filled with insights and anecdotes from crises averted and challenges solved, the book tracks the company’s development, uncovering lessons learned on its way to greatness: How Facebook recovered from its “disastrous” IPO How the growth team achieved the impossible Why Facebook’s News Feed ads were the company’s most important business decision ever How Google+ attacked and lost Why—and how—Instagram and WhatsApp were added to the mix What the company does to win the talent wars What makes Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Cox, and other A-teamers tick Which products and technical advancements are on the horizon and why And much more Intimate, fast-paced, and deeply informative, Becoming Facebook shares the true story of how Zuckerberg joined the ranks of iconic CEOs like Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos—as Facebook grows up, overcomes setbacks, and works to connect the world.

30 review for Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges That Defined the Company That's Disrupting the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    The book tells the story of Facebook from the perspective of an insider and a long-term employee of the company. It covers the founding and the rise to success of Facebook with a lens focusing on its business strategies, corporate culture and the drive and personality of its founder Mark Zuckerberg. This book is different from other books (and the one movie) I have read (and watched) about Facebook - Facebook Effect, Chaos Monkey, Four and The Social Network, in its detailed description of what The book tells the story of Facebook from the perspective of an insider and a long-term employee of the company. It covers the founding and the rise to success of Facebook with a lens focusing on its business strategies, corporate culture and the drive and personality of its founder Mark Zuckerberg. This book is different from other books (and the one movie) I have read (and watched) about Facebook - Facebook Effect, Chaos Monkey, Four and The Social Network, in its detailed description of what makes Facebook the tech titan it is today and how it will continue to growth in the future. With the author being an insider and loyal Facebook employee, I certainly sensed some bias in the book and at certain parts of the book I feel it was a bit preachy. Nevertheless, this book is quite insightful. Facebook's deliberate focus on growth, even though it reached major milestones like one billion daily active users, is definitely one of the key factors of their success. The use of North Star Metric, Core Product Value and Major Moments are some of the concepts that many can learn from. I also find it fascinating to read about the construction of its huge cloud infrastructure and the strategy of putting a large part of the data center software to open source. While Facebook's Newsfeed and its mobile advertising platform fuels the greatest money making engine, the author makes the case for Facebook's relentless drive to keep growing. There are examples such as the high-profile acquisitions of Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus; their patient and long-term engagement with China in order to enter the enormous market, the focus on getting the world more connected (internet beaming drones and satellites) and their bet on AI. One must wonder whether the company, with its already dominating position in social media on the Internet, can continue to grow at a rate that can justify their current valuation (as of writing of this book review, Facebook trades over eighteen times revenue). It will be interesting to see how all these big bets pan out. There are two areas that I felt the book lacks coverage. One, the role in Facebook in influencing politics and polarizing the society (that includes the avenue for foreign state in meddling in US elections) and two, the negative effect of social media on its users and society. I believe these are important business issues that Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and other top Facebook executives must be considering.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Doug Stotland

    This book is pretty much required reading for anyone working or investing in a tech/mobile/online/media. I worked with the author at Facebook after working at Microsoft as well as several tech start-ups over a 20+ year career. "Becoming Facebook" does a masterful job distilling much of what I found interesting, powerful and broadly applicable from working at Facebook during that period. I've also read Accidental Empires and The Facebook Effect and am an avid business and tech book reader. BF is This book is pretty much required reading for anyone working or investing in a tech/mobile/online/media. I worked with the author at Facebook after working at Microsoft as well as several tech start-ups over a 20+ year career. "Becoming Facebook" does a masterful job distilling much of what I found interesting, powerful and broadly applicable from working at Facebook during that period. I've also read Accidental Empires and The Facebook Effect and am an avid business and tech book reader. BF is in the top 10% of the business books in terms of insight and applicable wisdom. It's also among the top very few business books in terms of readability as the author's humor, story telling and unabashed enthusiasm made it less dry than most of the serious business books I've read. In terms of Facebook books, BF is in a different category from Accid Empires, Chaos Monkeys and TFEffect in that it's not an insider tells all (CM), gossip rag like AE or history of a business book like TFEffect so you'll be disappointed if you're looking for fun facts about the famous people who worked at Facebook during Hoefflinger's time there. I also loved Mike's unabashed optimism about Facebook and tech more broadly. I found his optimism about the opportunities for Facebook,and technology more broadly, to improve peoples lives energizing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Softwaredeveloperlife

    Looking How Facebook Became From A Marketing Perspective Over the years, there are a lot of glasses with different lenses that we have worn over the years in how we explore and research information: so long are the glasses people used to rely (close connections, yellow pages). For the better, we decided to embrace our world through a new set of glasses (search engines, social networks) to expand our horizons. Join ex-global business marketing of Facebook Mike Hoefflinger as he unfolds the story o Looking How Facebook Became From A Marketing Perspective Over the years, there are a lot of glasses with different lenses that we have worn over the years in how we explore and research information: so long are the glasses people used to rely (close connections, yellow pages). For the better, we decided to embrace our world through a new set of glasses (search engines, social networks) to expand our horizons. Join ex-global business marketing of Facebook Mike Hoefflinger as he unfolds the story of how Facebook took the lead to become the main portal for information discovery, as well monetizing its portal with personalized advertisements to users effectively. The book concepts of how Facebook works and how it has grown to today's standards are very clear, especially with the few visual aids, such as charts and diagrams provided in the book. Besides Entrepreneurship lessons, this is a Business History book, and what history book is without no names that become the catalysts for influencing the events of history?Facebook achievements and deliverables are too much to fit in a book, so the author discusses the main highlights of the organization by narrowing to the few lead executives that provided the biggest impact on influencing the path Facebook stands today. Each candidate that did a huge impact on Facebook is enough personalized in this book that they become memorable figures. There are a lot of entrepreneurship insights that will be even more easier for readers to grasp if they remembered the rollouts and acquisitions the social network giant did and have some background in business, marketing, and HR concepts. Even if you don't know much about Facebook or how a business operates, this book goes through the ropes to explaining each topic from a beginner's mindset perspective. Nevertheless, this book is a good remedy for all the press giving different twists of how tech companies operate. This gives a more clear big picture, a better compass, for what Facebook intentions were and where they are heading. It gives you an additional layer of understanding the mindset of the chess pieces the social network giant places over the board. That comes to one of the greatest assets Facebook has which to this day we take it for granted: their personalized news feed founded by Cox. To be quite honest, I do not see the personalized news feed alone at its full potential. Quite honestly saying, firstly, any individual news we extract is an individual piece that needs to be integrated into the big picture of things. That requires extra time for me to do on my end. In contrast, when I am reading a well-thought book, I am not only creating a relationship and better background of understanding the current mindset of the author, but I am getting a package of information that is more bundled and integrated that I can align it easier on my own mental framework. Regardless, it is hard to deny that Facebook started as a Family Photobook and scaled up to a place where we can share our stories. Secondly, all is left is whether the stories we read are relevant to our goals and whether we can adjust accordingly to what type of people and content we want to be influenced. That requires self-reflection. For example, even when reading this book, I am writing a well thought out review to adjust my views accordingly to the rest of the books I have read. Although we have Google to ask "find me more details about something specific" and Facebook to explore "I want to get more about some broad category, company, person", we don't have a guide "I want to go from A to B. What are the intermediate steps so I can reach B". With the advances in technology, although we can eradicate all the intermediate steps to do a specific thing, shortcuts like that will not exist for improving our own personal self. What will you learn in this book? You will learn: 1. Facebook great product is all about its culture: A. Most of its services Facebook runs are software based that promote a safe environment for experimentation. We know experimentation cultivates a culture that innovates. Thus, Facebook created a culture that embraces a learn by doing approach and embrace failures through a growth mindset. B. Employee talent and retention were best done by keeping the employees engaged with something in the company that was attributed to their strengths and were very interested with (that type of engagement is termed as being in "The Flow"). 2. Making their discovery platform to each user more seamless and effective to use and more accessible to developing countries: A. Facebook news feed algorithm prioritizing user's preferences B. Facebook creating their own hardware and software libraries from scratch to optimize the service running more smoothly C. Facebook creating a lighter version of their software for users that hold low-end devices. 3. How their marketing team was able to dominate effectively from the rest: A. Setting a critical common goal for all teams and departments to collaborate with for promoting diversity (North Star Metric) B. Evaluating which assets are the most critical to keep and grow for the health of the organization (Core Product Value) C. Making sure people can get a good impression to the products offering as fast as possible (Magic Moment). D. How Facebook really executed the most out of their own idea compared to the rest of the social networks (Care more) E. How Facebook product life cycle reached a stage which was more immune from competitors like Google+ to clone their business (crossing the chasm) F. How Facebook disrupted itself with going mobile first, ventured into messaging and embracing Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality despite the big set backs (Like Amazon cannibalizing its books for the Kindle and Netflix cannibalizing its physical DVD rental for its streaming service) G. How Facebook monetized advertisements by creating a state of the art marketplace where users and businesses get the best out of the experience, allowing users to dislike content that was not relevant to them and businesses able to pick to which type of users their advertisement would go. All of the above concepts and more are narrated on the times Facebook was trying to find breakthroughs on scaling up their business with memorable characters and with great detail of the events. There are three things that Facebook creates a big influence on society: 1. Facebook's mission on providing internet access to all 2. The founder's charity and giving to the people that deserve more in this world (developing countries) 3. Incorporating virtual reality as a part of our life. Although I admire (1) and (2), it would be complimentary as well to teach people to learn how to fish instead of giving them a fish only. In other words, we have not finished yet our world to be civilized and maybe it will never be. I think (3), creating a virtual reality is a supplementary solution to the problems were (1) and (2) lack. There are people that are very skeptical about this (i.e. Elon Musk). Elon Musk is at the opposite end feeling people are not civilized and a backup plan is required if society screws up by not caring its own natural resources. Of course, we intervened WW2 from a nuclear holocaust and famine with the French Revolution, but should we expect we will be lucky next time when our negligence overturns us where we cannot do anything about it on our own end? Virtual Reality will create a new set of rules in the same format that we live now through a specific set of rules for how this world and our mind interacts with it. A virtual reality can provide a safe environment to experiment, but what I am afraid of is a virtual reality that locks us to a more limited form where we cannot embrace our current capacities that we have in this world, such as the ability to innovate and other human parts of our mind that reach us to our ultimate potential. Nevertheless, the safe environment virtual reality provides will be a good handicap for the people that are not very bold yet in embracing their ideas more actively in our current world.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Somphong Phuangmalai

    เปนหนังสือทีเขียนถึง Facebook ไดดีเลยทีเดียว เป็นหนังสือที่เขียนถึง Facebook ได้ดีเลยทีเดียว

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vipul Murarka

    Thanks to NetGalley because of which I was able to get the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this informative book, Becoming Facebook by Michael Hoefflinger. First thing first; Becoming Facebook is not about how the social media giant was started but rather what happened after Facebook opened its doors for operation. What is noteworthy of the book is that while Zuckerberg may be the one who is obviously well known, but the author has given equal importance to other people from the company who have pl Thanks to NetGalley because of which I was able to get the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this informative book, Becoming Facebook by Michael Hoefflinger. First thing first; Becoming Facebook is not about how the social media giant was started but rather what happened after Facebook opened its doors for operation. What is noteworthy of the book is that while Zuckerberg may be the one who is obviously well known, but the author has given equal importance to other people from the company who have played crucial roles either in marketing, technology, building relationship with the employee, etc. One will not get an impression reading this book that only Zuckerberg is the heart and soul of Facebook. Usually in books such as these, the founder is made the hero and rest are side actors. However in this case everyone who has done noteworthy at the company has been given his/her due credit. The book digs deep into highlighting what has gone well for Facebook and doesn’t shy away from mentioning the failures which have been in abundance too. The reader may be amazed to learn that so much is tried within the company, much from it doesn’t work out and how Facebook is learning from its mistakes but isn’t afraid to spend big amount in trying things out. After reading the book it is clear that Facebook isn’t getting complacent after achieving so much and has one foot in learning from the mistakes and the other in preparing for the future. Having worked at Facebook for nearly seven years, Michael has given insights to somewhat the work culture within Facebook and the thought processes. However I was expecting to get more inside stories. Michael has superficially touched upon how and why Facebook acquired the companies such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus and others. I would have loved to hear more on how the acquisition came about. The writing is pretty much simple. While the author has wonderfully articulated the rationale of how things are done at the top level in Facebook, there have been moments when the book failed to capture the interest somewhere in the middle. The author lacked the story telling element that is usually infused in a non-fiction book these days to make the book interesting. Having said that, the book will definitely not disappoint you and will give you an idea where the future of social media is and what Facebook and the other online giant Google are doing to embrace it. There are also several key takeaways for budding entrepreneurs to ponder upon.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    Ten challenges that helped define Facebook are presented by the author, a former Facebook insider, in a bid to tell a bit of a story about the modern-day internet behemoth. Maybe a bit of the Facebook magic will rub off, on its own scale, in your company or within your professional practice too. The author notes that not everything was planned, nor was it necessarily a bed of roses for the company, but so far it has inveigled its way into being a critical part of a large proportion of the world’s Ten challenges that helped define Facebook are presented by the author, a former Facebook insider, in a bid to tell a bit of a story about the modern-day internet behemoth. Maybe a bit of the Facebook magic will rub off, on its own scale, in your company or within your professional practice too. The author notes that not everything was planned, nor was it necessarily a bed of roses for the company, but so far it has inveigled its way into being a critical part of a large proportion of the world’s online life. The company cannot afford to sit on its laurels, as the online world can be fickle and move on to pastures new if they perceive better things await them. This is a well-written, informative and accessible book that surely will add a bit of colour and additional data, even for those who may have followed the key news is it happened. For the more dispassionate outsider, it can be addictive and ultra-engaging. It made for a pleasant, light read that can pack a powerful punch and possibly give a lot too.

  7. 4 out of 5

    GM

    frankly enough, the tone of the book is off-putting. Hoefflinger used to work at Facebook during its global rise and his immense pride in Facebook really shows (This book made me want to delete Facebook and Whatsapp and Instagram legit please stop with your hard-sell antics sometimes). tldr to important points - Facebook's vision in "connecting people" which > " connecting information" (Google). The business model of focusing on what is important whilst still not giving up on other markets li frankly enough, the tone of the book is off-putting. Hoefflinger used to work at Facebook during its global rise and his immense pride in Facebook really shows (This book made me want to delete Facebook and Whatsapp and Instagram legit please stop with your hard-sell antics sometimes). tldr to important points - Facebook's vision in "connecting people" which > " connecting information" (Google). The business model of focusing on what is important whilst still not giving up on other markets like China and Japan. Zuckerberg and Sandberg are amzing very hardworking good talent pool always developing many other tech giants employees going to work for Fb blahblaha. Developing infrastructure in less developed countries NOT BC OF REVENUE!! but BECAUSE OF CONNECTION!!11!!1!! It would be interesting to see an updated version of the book because 2016 Hoefflinger seemed to foresee Snapchat Discover rising to become a strong competitor of Facebook ads.

  8. 5 out of 5

    AKT

    Don’t you just wish you’re as genius as Mark Z? In this digital era of Jobs, Page, Musk and Bezos, goddamnit how can one be as insanely capable of changing the world through social network? Great read to understand the evolution of Facebook. From turning down 1B dollar acquisition offer of Yahoo!, to some humps along the way, to the foundation of News Feed and the growing creative user experience, no wonder Facebook is the leader in connecting the world. 2 billion monthly active users and growin Don’t you just wish you’re as genius as Mark Z? In this digital era of Jobs, Page, Musk and Bezos, goddamnit how can one be as insanely capable of changing the world through social network? Great read to understand the evolution of Facebook. From turning down 1B dollar acquisition offer of Yahoo!, to some humps along the way, to the foundation of News Feed and the growing creative user experience, no wonder Facebook is the leader in connecting the world. 2 billion monthly active users and growing. Detailed and explained from the perspective and first-hand experience of a former employee. I am obviously obsessed in reading and learning every key detail of social media and digital advertising. So, yes, keeping this in my “favorite books” shelf.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    If you live in the 21st century, this is a must read. It picks up where the movie left off. What do you do after you've proven everyone wrong, have connected hundreds of millions of people and gone public? This book explains the courage to never stay still and the commitment to disruption necessary to go from a hugely successful company to something that most of us won't live without. All from an insiders perspective. Michael Hoefflinger is not just a young sycophant though, he brings his time w If you live in the 21st century, this is a must read. It picks up where the movie left off. What do you do after you've proven everyone wrong, have connected hundreds of millions of people and gone public? This book explains the courage to never stay still and the commitment to disruption necessary to go from a hugely successful company to something that most of us won't live without. All from an insiders perspective. Michael Hoefflinger is not just a young sycophant though, he brings his time working with founder of Silicon Valley, Andy Grove, to bear in this insightful book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marius Greblikas

    visi žino kas yra Facebook'as, bet ne visi žino kaip jis pasidarė toks koks yra ir kokie jų ateities planai. Tie 10 iššūkių tikrai įdomūs - kasdieniniam gyvenime net nesusimastai su kokiais sunkumais Facebook susiduria Kinijoje, Indijoje, Japonijoje, Afrikoje ir t.t. Pasirodo jie netik socialinis tinklas, jie kur kas daugiau :)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Liu

    The book is half history and half written as lessons from someone looking to create a startup. The history portions were interesting, though the book sometimes slipped into preachy psychologist mode. The author also has a proclivity to fawn over Facebook's success. But otherwise, was an interesting and insightful book into the history of the company.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    A great profile to an outsiders look on Facebook and the technology industry. Facebook is known to many for social networking but the mission behind what drive this company and the acquisitions is outlined. Challenges many companies face but the unique way Facebook overcame to continue to connect at scale.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jingwei Shi

    One of the best analytical books about Facebook's business and history. The author does a great job of describing Facebook's advertising value proposition, worldwide scale, and culture from a tech insider's perspective.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Victor

    Insider's perspective into the people, thinking, failures and successes of Facebook, and how such experiences could be more broadly apply to any business. Thoughtful and well written. The best of the Facebook books!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    An easy to read story of Facebook with learning pulled out that can be applied to all businesses.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ken Hamner

    Excellent book. Well worth reading.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cristian

    Me encantó, entrega una mirada a la intimidad de Facebook durante años tormentosos y da una visión sobre el futuro de la empresa. Se lee rapidísimo.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charles Franklin

    Interesting, highly technical. I would have preferred more focus on the ways businesses can learn from Facebook, though.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    While they are always interesting, books that document the history of the rise of a powerful technology company sometimes reach the point of elevating a founder to cult status. That is not the case with this book as it looks at Facebook and the founder and primary architect Mark Zuckerberg. Although it is clear that the success of Facebook is largely due to the vision of Zuckerberg and his willingness to consider the long haul, other people that were important in the development of the company While they are always interesting, books that document the history of the rise of a powerful technology company sometimes reach the point of elevating a founder to cult status. That is not the case with this book as it looks at Facebook and the founder and primary architect Mark Zuckerberg. Although it is clear that the success of Facebook is largely due to the vision of Zuckerberg and his willingness to consider the long haul, other people that were important in the development of the company are also given some ink. There are times when you read about Steve Jobs, the impression is that he did it all himself. The number of stories about the rants carried out by tech titans such as Jobs and Bill Gates are legendary in the literature, not so with Zuckerberg. While he is hard-nosed, there is little mention of him belittling or being verbally nasty to others working for Facebook. One of the most impressive characteristics of Zuckerberg is that he has become fluent in Mandarin to the point that he has lectured in Chinese to audiences in China. This is at a time when Facebook is almost totally banned from Chinese territory. This is behavior almost unheard of among American heads of companies, taking the time to learn about the cultures of the markets they hope to penetrate. This is a great book about one of the most powerful companies on the planet, one willing to spend whatever it takes to expand. Furthermore, unlike some other technology companies, Facebook still has room to grow, with massive populations still not wasting company time by accessing Facebook at work. In many ways it is clear that the smartest business person in America in the last twenty years was Zuckerberg. After reading this book it is hard to argue against that position.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Valentine

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vamshi Velmajala

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paras Nanavati

  23. 5 out of 5

    Panthipa Suksirisorn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Thomas

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ziad Razak

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christian

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark Trefgarne

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike Siegel

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  30. 5 out of 5

    Banu Guler

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