Facebook’s awards night

Time‘s person of the year award always sparks a great deal of interest, as it’s often a reminder of the really important trends shaping our world.

In most cases, the award seems to go to some sort of world leader and usually a political leader – the last five individuals to be named person of the year were politicians.

But not this time. In 2010, the award has gone to an entrepreneur who has probably done more to drive one of the biggest changes in society and business than any other – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s an interesting choice, and I can see why many people would have nominated the fascinating Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for the gong. But the sheer numbers behind Facebook – or more particularly, the fact 600 million people are now on the site – highlight the level of influence Zuckerberg has.

Facebook has clearly changed the way we contact each other and share information. But it also changed the way companies talk to customers and sell to them, and the way customers can make their opinions known. You could argue it has changed the methods by which public opinion can shift, and be tracked, and the way political campaigns are run.

The editorial Time editor Richard Stengel wrote in an editorial, “more than anyone else on the world stage, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is at the centre of these changes.”

What’s also interesting is the way Zuckerberg has been forced to shift from product developer to CEO. Facebook’s revenue is put at about $1 billion, which emphasises how Zuckerberg has been able to make the difficult jump from building a community to monetising it. This is something Twitter clearly continues to struggle with.

Indeed, it’s easy to remember that there is actually a real business behind Facebook and one that will become increasingly complex and challenging to manage as it grows.

Which is why Zuckberg himself might actually be more excited with the fact that Facebook was named as America’s employer of choice in a survey by a site called Glassdoor, which is best known for providing anonymous salary information. Zuckerberg’s person approval rating was 95%.

For a business trying to build its infrastructure and culture, little wins like that are important. Maybe not Time-person-of-the-year important, but a nice accolade all the same.

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