Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg will never be confused with David Letterman or Steve Jobs when it comes to public speaking, but he's gotten progressively more sure of himself. He also speaks with an enthusiasm that can't be faked -- a sort of joy in sharing what his company has created that few executives have.
In delivering the keynote speech at the company's F8 developers conference last week, Zuckerberg seemed almost relaxed. Perhaps that was because he was speaking to an audience of programmers, or maybe he's just grown more comfortable being on stage and not hidden behind a computer.
It was an energetic Zuckerberg who shared with the F8 crowd not just some specific new products, but also a sneak peek into his plans for the future of the social-media brand, specifically in regard to apps. In all, Facebook announced during F8 "more than 25 products and tools to help developers build, grow, and monetize mobile apps," the company said in a press release, but its CEO focused on a select few areas of innovation and change during his speech.
Facebook Login is key
Zuckerberg said feeling safe on a platform is key to users' ability to trust it and commit fully to using it. "We need to put people first by keeping them safe, and giving them more control of their experiences," he said. "Because when people feel good about their experience, that's when they're open to trying new things, like your apps."
He said the company intended to continue to develop Facebook Login, which 80% of the top-grossing apps in the United States use, to allow users to have total control over what information is shared. The CEO also explained that the company is working to make sure apps are only requesting information they need.
"Since making this change, apps are now requesting 50% fewer permission but are receiving 10% more logins," he said.
In the coming months, more apps will be migrated to the revised login, and the CEO thinks this trend will put users at ease and make them more likely to try an app on the Facebook platform.
Facebook wants to keep you safe
In addition to developing new apps, Facebook is working to keep the existing ones free from viruses, malware, and other threats. One way the company is doing so is by opening a dialogue with other technology leaders through its new Threat Exchange program.
Zuckerberg explained that a recent attack on Facebook was hosted on "the platforms of other technology companies in our industry." Hackers can do that, he said, because they correctly assume that developers from different companies don't speak to each other.
Threat Exchange, a new initiative, is an attempt to stop that by linking developers together across company lines.
"We've already heard from thousands of developers who want to join," he said.
Messenger is now open to developers, businesses
Facebook's Messenger, which has 600 million users, has always been a closed, company-driven platform. That approach changed at F8, when Zuckerberg announced "Messenger Platform," a "new platform that developers can use to help people connect."
The CEO said the goal was to start small and focused, and he talked about expanding the composer in Messenger so people can "say anything they want better." He showed examples of apps that did everything from creating videos to simpler things such as silly voice modulation.
"The second thing we want to talk about is making Messenger a place where you can easily communicate with the businesses you care about," he said, noting that most people still talk to businesses by calling them. He called that notion out of date and suggested that Messenger could become a platform for more immediate communication with companies.
Messenger for business will facilitate customer service and things such as reservations and returns.
"Right after you purchase something online, if you need to change your order, you're going to be able to do that in Messenger," Zuckerberg said. "Helping people communicate more naturally with businesses is going to improve, I think, nearly every person's life, because it's something everyone does."
It never hurts to think big
While people would usually laugh at a CEO who promises that a product will help nearly every person, Zuckerberg has more credibility than most when it comes to making big promises. In addition to already having products that touch over a quarter, and perhaps close to half, of the global population, Facebook is continuing to aim big.
Working across company lines to solve security issues is logical, but it takes a bold leader to get rivals to work together. Facebook is doing that not only in digital safety, but also in bringing the Internet to the parts of the world that don't have it.
Facebook Messenger may or may not change how most people interact with business, but Zuckerberg has shown that it's possible for technology to touch the world. He may be overreaching on this one, but history suggests he may not be.