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Ted Leonsis' Take on Facebook

Kim Hart

Ted Leonsis of AOL and Washington Capitals fame is known for his shrewd business judgment and tech know-how, so much so that the local Web 2.0 entrepreneurial community often seeks his involvement and guidance. He asked some interesting questions about Facebook in a recent blog entry.

"I think Facebook is about to reach a very critical point in its development," he wrote. "It needs to answer a very basic question: Does it want to be needed or loved as a brand and as a service? I always pondered this question back in the good old days of AOL's development."

Facebook, Leonsis says, started out as a fun way to connect with people, but has come to play such an integral part of people's online lives that it needs to find a way to be needed AND loved. AOL, he said, once held that status, and Google holds it now.

So what's keeping Facebook from earning that kind of brand equity? For example, it needs to improve its privacy policies, Leonsis said. "It will also have to innovate and redefine utility-like services such as email, messaging, search, chat, storage and self-expression. Today, many of those functions on Facebook are poor imitations of the real thing in the real world."

The site's youthful feel and "sheen as a populist brand" has been beneficial to Facebook.

But, "...today, the city I live in called Facebook, is getting crowded and noisy and I am not as proud of my neighborhood as I once was. So Mark, 'Would you rather be needed or loved?'"

How do you feel? Do you use Facebook because you need it to complete your online persona, or simply because you love using it?

By Kim Hart  |  April 15, 2008; 6:36 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
Previous: Reston Firm Launches Satellite for Mobile Services | Next: More Debate About Facebook's Future


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I work at a college. My wife and I became friendly with some graduates so I use Facebook to see what they're up to now. However, I really dislike Facebook. It's unbelievable that smut can be put on my page as part of the college's "favorite" videos. I also wonder how long it will remain popular now that Alumni Dev is using it to spam many thousands of alums. A recent student panel told us they use Facebook to keep track of upcoming parties and that they will close their accounts after graduation. Interesting.

Posted by: Brien | April 18, 2008 2:51 PM

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