Forbes India Names Facebook Its 2010 Person of the Year

Forbes India named Facebook its 2010 Person of the Year in its January 2010 issue and asked me why.

In a recent post, I shared five reasons why Facebook is good for your soul, so my love for Facebook is no secret.

In the interview, however, I highlight the fact that Orkut, not Facebook, is the default social networking platform for Indians. Orkut introduced Indians to social networking, it’s still much bigger than Facebook in India, and with its recent redesign, it might have more staying power than most people give it credit for. Speaking for myself, I have started spending much more time on Orkut after the redesign than I have in the last year or so.

I also highlight the difference between LinkedIn and Facebook in the interview. Most people use LinkedIn like a rolodex, exclusively for professional networking. On the other hand, Facebook reflects our real world relationships better, where we switch between the personal and the professional, almost seamlessly. LinkedIn too offers a vastly improved user interface after its recent redesign and I expect myself to spend more time on LinkedIn in the coming weeks.

So, yes, Facebook is great, but the other social networks have a lot going for them and the battle for the Indian social networking space is far from over.

Here is the full text of the Forbes India story –

Bitten by The Zuckerbug
The Facebook effect: Why a billion people like this
by Rohin Dharmakumar
Jan 2, 2010

Account information
Name: Rohin Dharmakumar
Network: Network18
last update: is watching newbie twitter CEO Rajeev bajaj take on questions from random people on twitter
personal info: self critic and cynic with mild OCD

Rohin Dharmakumar is wondering if there is anything or anyone that scares Google?

5 people like this.

Rajesh Lalwani Facebook? I think it’s the most significant threat to Google. Google represents the Internet of yesterday when we searched for information…information that had to be indexed first. With Facebook information finds you, right here and now.

What is happening to search? Earlier when you heard an announcement you went to Google and did a search, but now you see a video and share it on your Facebook page…and half a day later it’s on all of your friends’ profiles and everybody is talking about it. Put simply, earlier you sought news, now news finds you!

Prashant Mehta While seeking answers people like us will trust information from friends on Facebook a lot more than Google. Facebook is people while Google is just a machine.

Alok Kejriwal I don’t think so. The biggest challenge for Facebook is this: Facebook = Friends whereas Google = Information. I will never think of Facebook while searching for information about, say, rheumatoid arthritis. Besides the average number of connections on Facebook is 100-150, and you cannot get a wealth of info from that small a network.

Rohin Dharmakumar Hmmm, interesting thoughts. But isn’t Facebook more of a Western phenomenon?

Prashant Mehta When 2009 began Facebook’s ranking among the most popular Indian Web sites was in the 20s. It is now Number 7. No Web site has moved that fast in a market like India.

Rohin Dharmakumar wants to know how big the Facebook phenomenon is in India?

Alok Kejriwal I would say no Web site has ever had such an impact on Indians! Two girls from Dehradun will spend 5 hours a day on Facebook because there’s nothing else to do. Though in cities it’s a conversational medium, in smaller places it’s an entertainment medium…which means that’s where the games and apps are getting played and explored.

Gaurav Mishra Facebook was not the first platform to become big in India, Orkut was. And what Facebook does is fundamentally most of what Orkut does too – connect with friends, share interests. But Facebook does have more applications, a more sophisticated user interface and better privacy controls.

Rajesh Lalwani Though Orkut is currently Number 1 in terms of numbers, Facebook is probably growing much faster. It is also poaching a lot of Orkut users through its Import Profile feature.

Rohin Dharmakumar Thanks for those comments folks. I thought of checking on some figures around Facebook’s popularity in India, just to be objective, you know :) Data from both comScore and Vizisense says 10.3 million Indians, or roughly one in four Indians with an Internet connection used Facebook in October 2009. But the data also says Google’s Orkut had like 15.5-17.5 million Indian users. But Rajesh is right on the growth aspect – compared to Orkut’s annual growth rate of 43.4 percent, Facebook grew at a whopping 229.7 percent!

Prashant Mehta Orkut might not be #1 by 2010!

Charles Assisi These are fantastic figures Rohin. Can we consider Facebook as a contender for our Person of the Year awards? Let’s talk once you’re in office.

Rohin Dharmakumar commented on Forbes India’s page – 2010 Person of the Year

Rajesh Lalwani wants to know what makes Facebook special for you? (via Rohin Dharmakumar, who’s writing at article about it for Forbes India)

3 people like this.

Gaurav Mishra I was a typical IIM MBA working in a 9-to-5 job. Then through Facebook and Twitter I came upon writing book chapters, articles, a fellowship (at Georgetown University) and finally a new company (20:20 Social)!

Rohin Dharmakumar Not everyone is going to be as lucky as you, Gaurav!

Alok Kejriwal You know about the famous “Speaker’s Corner” in London’s Hyde Park? You know the one where anybody can stand and address the world? Well Facebook is my Speaker’s Corner to the world!

No other medium has ever existed where I could broadcast my thoughts to 5,000 friends at the click of a mouse. Thoughts that everybody notices, whether or not they react doesn’t matter.

Prashant Mehta Some Facebook apps have completely consumed us. My nine-year-old cousin comes home to get online and use Facebook. My 65-year-old mother-in-law connects with me from the US. There is no other medium that has an impact on such a wide segment of society.

Rohin Dharmakumar Interesting! But I’m curious to know if Prashant’s experience is isolated, or if it is more widespread in India?

Rajesh Lalwani I have my 12-year-old niece and 65-year-old former boss on Facebook. Everybody is a wire agency today!

Alok Kejriwal Rohin, my 13-year-old daughter has a Facebook account. Initially I and my wife were concerned, but then we found out that she is connected to five of her school teachers too! My daughter also plays Facebook games with my Mom. Sure they could have played together at home, but the point is they don’t.

Rohin Dharmakumar created a poll.
If you could be on only one social network, which one would it be?

Facebook 78% (7 votes)
LinkedIn 22% (2 votes)
Orkut 0%
BIG Adda 0%

Rohin Dharmakumar Surprised that LinkedIn isn’t more popular among my “working class” friend list?

Rajesh Lalwani LinkedIn is static. I don’t know my LinkedIn contacts well enough because it tells me yesterday’s biodata, not what you’re doing today.

Gaurav Mishra True, LinkedIn has this very tight business networking context due to which you can’t really get to know people. Besides if you choose to then Facebook can be used primarily for professional networking, or personal, or both simultaneously. I think that ability is unique to it. I think that’s because of Facebook evolution from US Ivy League colleges where personal and professional contexts merged. And when those students grew out of college Facebook evolved with them, but it has its roots in that context.

Alok Kejriwal LinkedIn is like a large auditorium of business folks, all dressed up and not willing to talk to each other!

Charles Assisi is wondering if Facebook kills office productivity…at least this research says so

Study: Facebook use cuts productivity at work

Survey finds 77 percent of Facebookers use the social networking site while on the job

5 people like this.
Rohin Dharmakumar There should be a dislike button on Facebook!

Alok Kejriwal I don’t agree. I think Facebook relaxes the workplace, making it less stiff and formal. Besides, the Indian work culture is moving from disciplinary to results-based – everybody knows what they need to do. I use it for work too. I link to my blog posts on Facebook and get around 1,000 additional hits. Every job offer I post on Facebook gets me 20-30 responses. I found my current PR agency through Facebook.

Prashant Mehta People are using Facebook at work to connect with colleagues. And given that we spend most of our time at work, it helps us bridge that gap there.
I was in Dubai recently and set my status message to “In Dubai for 4 days”. In those four days I ended up having four meetings with professional contacts from my Facebook friends list.

Rajesh Lalwani Facebook has further blurred the boundary between work and personal lives. On Facebook I manage communities, engage with business contacts and connect with friends and family. It has beautifully ensured that people are connected to it every second…I know people who log in every 30 minutes just to check status messages.

Rohin Dharmakumar is going to vote for Facebook as Forbes India’s 2010 Person of the Year!

14 people like this.
Prashant Mehta In the social media space, both momentum and trust are important. It’s amazing to see people putting up pictures of their kids etc. on Facebook, which I feel they would not do unless there was this trust that Facebook will not misuse my information.

Alok Kejriwal The other day I met someone interesting on a flight and quite naturally said to him, “Let’s Facebook each other?” In return he said my name is so-and-so and I am from Pune. Our lives are about people and memories, and discovering people is why Facebook is important.

Rajesh Lalwani Just a few years ago who would have thought you would connect your girlfriend from 15 years ago, family and friends all together on the same platform?


Facebook was the 3rd most popular online destination, after a Google search and Windows Media Player videos, for US citizens aged 65 and upwards – Nielson

The Wall Street Journal recently estimated Facebook’s 2010 revenue at $710 million, up 40 percent over the year before

To test Facebook members’ willingness to trust complete strangers, IT security firm Sophos sent out 100 random friend-requests from two newly created accounts, “Daisy Felettin” and “Dinette Stonily” – anagrams for “false identity” and “stolen identity” respectively. In both cases 95 out of 100 accepted the requests.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is valued at $9.5 billion, up 42 percent over July 2009, but down 36 percent over its October 2007 peak valuation of $15 billion

Microsoft invested $240 million in October 2007 for a minority stake in Facebook, according to the Wall Street Journal, beating out rival Google

Only 15-20 percent of Facebook users have ever modified their default privacy settings, according to the company.

Cross-posted at 2020 Social: Because Business is Social.

As CEO of 2020 Social, I build and nurture online communities for Indian and international clients, connect their customers, partners and employees, and help them achieve their business objectives. Ask us how we can help you.

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