Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke with FOX Business Network’s (FBN) Maria Bartiromo about the company’s growth, their focus on mobile and the recent acquisitions of Oculus and WhatsApp. Sandberg discussed their Asia engagement saying, “our engagement continues to be really strong across the board…we’re not seeing any trends we’re worried about.” Regarding Oculus, Sandberg said, “Oculus is a different kind of bet, and it’s a long-term bet. We’ve had an active games platform, and that’s been important to our growth. And we think Oculus represents the next generation of a compelling games product.” She also discussed monetizing the payments business saying, “we have nothing new to announce in payments, be we have had a payments business,” which has “has largely facilitated consumers buying things and games through our apps,” which has been important in helping advertisers “pay us for the ads they buy.”
Excerpts from the interview are below:
On Facebook’s growth:
“I think one of the best stories about Facebook over the last decade is the user growth and the user engagement. When I joined the company over six years ago, we had 70 million users and 50 percent came back every day. And I kept telling people to stop saying that 50 percent come back every day, because your early users are usually your most active.
So I thought — and history would tell us that as our user growth grow — grew, we would have fewer percentage coming back every day.
But we just hit, this quarter, 1.28 billion users and now only — almost 63 percent are coming back every day. And that really has surprised us and has been really a strong signal that as more people get on Facebook, as people post more, as we get better at showing very relevant posts to — to consumers, people use Facebook more. And that’s been, I think, a really important driver of the performance you’ve seen.”
On acquiring Oculus and WhatsApp:
“We’re making, I think, really good investments and important investments for the long term. When you look at what’s out, we’re looking at a consumer product that’s hugely important in messaging and mobile…Oculus is a different kind of bet, and it’s a long-term bet. We’ve had an active games platform, and that’s been important to our growth. And we think Oculus represents the next generation of a compelling games product.
But we also think over the longer run, this has a real shot at being a broader communications platform. And we thought that making that investment is really important so that we can continue to invest in our long-run growth. At the same time, most of our daily time and attention goes to our current business. Growing users, growing engagements, growing our ads business. Which again, is what you saw from us this quarter.”
On the shift from desktop revenues to mobile:
“People have long been concerned about the shift from desktop to mobile for Facebook. And I think that’s a concern we really alleviated over the past year with our performance. If you look at time spent, we get one in seven minutes on the desktop, but we get one in five minutes on mobile. When we’ve moved our ad products from a real focus on desktop ads to mobile ads, what you’ve seen from us is ads that are more engaging and perform better. So I think we really benefit from that shift.
It’s true that desktop usage is not on a growth path; mobile usage is. But it’s still real. We have over a billion users using Facebook every month on mobile. But we still have 900 million people on desktop. Now, we’re certainly investing more heavily in mobile because we believe that’s the future, and we believe that we have a stronger competitive advantage. But we still do have a desktop business, and we take care of that business as well.”
On their Asian engagement and emerging markets:
“Our engagement continues to be really strong across the board. There was a question answered on the call about Asia engagement. And our CFO’s answer was those numbers kind of move around. We’re not seeing any trends we’re worried about.
What we see is that we are able to grow users and we’re able to keep users coming back all around the world. And I think again, we’re really helped by that shift to mobile. If you have to check Facebook on your desktop, you’ve got to be in front of a computer. And that usually happens in a home or office. If you can check Facebook on mobile, Facebook’s with you all day, everywhere you are. That’s actually increasingly important in emerging markets where people don’t often have computers and they’re even skipping that part of the technology trend and going straight to mobile.”
On focusing on mobile users:
“Our growth has been very broad-based across all geographies, both on the consumer side – people who use Facebook – and on the ad side. We’re making a very big bet in mobile, and we’re increasingly interested not just in capturing time of people who are connecting to mobile, but actually connecting more people. We have a partnership called Internet.org with a number of companies and nonprofits around the world. And we’re focused on bringing more people online, both because we think that benefits them, but also because we think the world is a better place when we connect more people. And mobile is how that’s going to happen.”
Well, we’re not a Bitcoin company and we’re not a bank. But when we look at ecommerce, what we see is a really expanding opportunity for people to reach consumers all over the world on their mobile devices with whatever they’re doing and be able to sell their products to them. And we’re really excited to be part of the discovery of that trend and we think that’s only going to continue as mobile phones get better, as more people have them around the world.
On monetizing the payments business:
“We have nothing new to announce in payments, but we have had a payments business. And that payments business has largely facilitated consumers buying things and games through our apps. And it’s also been important in helping advertisers, particularly SMBs around the world, pay us for the ads they buy.”
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