For what purposes, precisely, do users typically turn to Facebook? A birthday greeting for an erstwhile friend? A photo album of high-octane shots from a drunken night out? Status updates, viral videos, promotional business efforts?
But the future of the social network, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, may lie entirely elsewhere.
In an earnings call discussing the company’s second-quarter results, Zuckerberg pointed to a somewhat unexpected Facebook facility as being key to its future: Messaging.
"I’m so excited about messaging," he said. "There are only so many photos you’re going to want to share with friends -- there’s just a lot more people want to express."
And recent actions would seem to indicate that messaging is top of mind. After making its biggest acquisition ever of mobile messaging platform WhatsApp, the company is also toying with Slingshot -- an ephemeral messaging app not unlike Snapchat. The company also released its own standalone Messenger app in 2011.
But perhaps Zuckerberg’s vision for the future of messaging is less about expression than it is about cold hard cash. During the call, he confirmed that the company’s Payments subsidiary and Messenger tool will eventually “overlap.”
The fact that Facebook poached David Marcus, the former president of PayPal, to run its messaging products last month would also seem to point to this eventuality.
Either way, Wall Street is collectively rejoicing at the network’s latest earnings report, in which pivotal mobile ad revenues posted soaring growth of 151 percent, comprising 62 percent of total ad revenues -- news of which sent Facebook shares to an all-time high.
The company, which says it currently has 1.32 billion monthly users, is now valued at $190 billion.