7. November 2012–
Facebook in Europe is all about looking for hot new talent instead of huge Instagram-style takeovers, according to its Director of Vertical Business Partnerships. Noah Conference 2012 attendees were treated to a swift, 15-minute visit from Christian Hernandez Gallardo, and while the visit was described as a "drop-in" session (i.e. no tricky Q&As about post-IPO changes in promoted posts, and certainly no interviews – we asked), although we did get to hear about the broad outline of its roadmap for Europe in the coming months...
"For the last three years we've been building an ecosystem of European companies that want to use Facebook as a platform for going global. So, the King.coms, the Spotifys, the Rovios who are actually betting on social as a transformative power," says Hernandez.
"Do you want to make a large company social or a social company large?"
Much of Gallardo's role is to seek out these firms who have enough promise and that are willing to bet their growth within the Facebook ecosystem: "We have a saying in the company: 'Do you want to make a large company social or a social company large?'
"I give myself a good grade on making social companies large, but it's much more difficult to make a large company social. It's much more complex to rip out a product and add a layer of real humans to it."
Creating "Social CRM"
He went on to explain how Facebook targets these companies, and what sort of offers it brings to the table: "We have a team that is incubating eCommerce and multi-channel retail – luxury and fashion on what I call 'Social CRM', deploying engineers and business managers to go and talk to companies about building something social and helping them achieve that."
Why Finland and Turkey are exciting Facebook
When asked where he spends his time, Gallardo, who was previously in charge of Google's expansion into Eastern Europe says that 60 per cent is outside of the UK, despite Facebook having its biggest offices here: "There are still the structural issues. Europe still has country by country silos. Germany's a great example – it's not one city; it has Frankfurt and Hamburg and Munich and Berlin, so you have to go in and interact with companies on the ground.
"Personally, I am a huge fan of Turkey, the vibrancy of the market. Israel is also doing really well for gaming. And the number of startups coming out of Finland is amazing. And the UK has the biggest hub of developers outside of Silicon Valley."
"Mobile is still a place of unknowns"
When questioned about the mobile market, often charged with being the Achilles heel in Facebook's armoury and the main cause of the bad post-IPO valuation, Gallardo admitted: "Mobile is still a place of unknowns. There's no cookies, you don't know who you are talking to. You're hoping you hit the right demographic.
"But mobile is what I'm most excited about. In the US you have 600 million users spending eight hours per month on Facebook on mobile versus six hours online. Once you have identity, targeting and insights, that's huge.
"We can target 25-year-old females with an Oxford degree in Sheffield who like Lady GaGa. So you know you're only going to get 20,000 of those. In fact, there's actually 13,500, I checked yesterday.
"And now we can track whether she saw the ad, installed the app. Those insights are hard for anyone else to reproduce."
So is Facebook looking for a European Instagram?
So what does Facebook have its sight set on next in Europe? Is it scouting for the next Instagram on this side of the Atlantic? Gallardo thinks no: "I think that the focus will be more on pure talent than large Instagram-style deals.
"We either do talent acquisitions or product M&As. Face.com and Snaptu - we brought the teams in house. Sofa, a great design company in Amsterdam we got because they were so strong and we got Lightbox in UK because they have a fantastic talent of Android developers."
Image credit: Flickr user LeWEB12
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