Newsmakers 2011: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg pushes the potential of the social infrastructure

Mark Zuckerberg speaks at a product rollout in November 2010. (Photo by Robert Scoble via Flickr.)

Now that everybody is connected, things are about to get really interesting.

That was the message from Mark Zuckerberg this year, through his words and actions. The Facebook CEO sees the new “social infrastructure” transforming businesses including television, movies, books and music before moving on to traditional sectors such as health care and finance.

“When you assume that everyone is going to be in a social environment, the economics (and) the experience are completely different,” said Zuckerberg during a visit to Seattle in June. “It just leads to massive disruption.”

As the biggest piece of that infrastructure, Facebook surpassed 750 million users this year as it continued to build out its business with features such as music services and video chat, and a new way of looking at the span of a person’s life. Of course, this being Facebook, there was plenty of controversy along the way, ranging from general discontent about new features to a big privacy settlement with the federal government.

The company also continued to extend its reach geographically, announcing plans to double its Seattle engineering office next year, part of a wave of Silicon Valley firms expanding their footprint in our region as a means of competing for technical talent. Facebook’s Seattle team has already made its mark in areas including video chat, as part of the company’s partnership with Skype, which was acquired by Microsoft this past year.

“I think the last 5 years have been about connecting all these people. The next 5 years are going to be about all the crazy things you can do now that all those people are connected,” Zuckerberg said during his Seattle visit. “And I think it’s going to be cool.”

Newsmakers at the GeekWire Gala

We’ll be recognizing more than 20 Newsmakers of 2011 during the GeekWire Gala, Dec. 8 at the Great Hall at Seattle’s Union Station. We’ll introduce a new Newsmaker every weekday leading up to the big event.

The night is also a celebration of “Geeks who Give Back,” recognized in a special GeekWire 2012 Calendar that will be given to attendees, with a share of sponsorship proceeds going to the Child’s Play charity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The event is now sold out. If you’ve already signed up, we’re looking forward to seeing you there! See the registration page for details and logistics.

Thanks to our sponsors Zillow, Bing, Filter, Facebook, thePlatform and Barokas PR for helping to make this special evening possible.

Contact Rebecca Lovell, rebecca@geekwire.com, for sponsorship opportunities.