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Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook 'almost guaranteed' to reach 1 billion users

Russia, Japan, China and Japan only remaining countries where Facebook not leading social network says founder.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook's global dominance is almost complete with just Russia, Japan, China and
Japan yet to be converted and the social networking giant aiming to reach 1 billion users,
founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed today.

Zuckerberg, who said he had recently met Prime Minister David Cameron "for just a 
minute [when] he was busy rolling out the budget", also admitted that one day he could 
see Facebook floating on the stockmarket – just not anytime soon. 
He added that there was "no chance" Facebook, which has cracked the 500 million user 
mark, would hit 1 billion this year but argued that "it is almost a guarantee that it will 

"If we succeed [in innovating and remaining relevant] there is a good chance of bringing 
this to a billion people… it will be interesting to see how it plays out," he said speaking to 
two packed auditoriums – one via video link – at the Cannes Lions International 
Advertising Festival.

Facebook's global domination is almost complete, he said. "We are down to just four 
countries where we aren't the leading social network." 
Zuckerberg added that in Russia Facebook had just 1 million users, the kind of numbers 
that saw AOL sell off Bebo and ITV relinquish Friends Reunited. But in Facebook's case, 
growth is "doubling every six months", according to Zuckerberg, and Japan and Korea 
have similar user bases.

He said that Facebook can tell when an explosive growth "tipping point" is about to be 
reached by who is "friending" who. When Facebook first launches in a country, nearly all 
the friend connections are with foreign Facebook users.

"We know that a country has tipped when local-to-local connections outnumber local to 
foreign," he added. "It is a long-term thing [and with regard to the four left to tip] we are 
probably not going to win in six months, not in a year [but] things look promising in 
three to five years out."

He also said that the company would make an initial public offering. "At some point, 
sure," he said. "It is probably not that different [running a public company compared 
with a privately held one]." However, after many sceptical guffaws in the Cannes 
audience he backtracked and said: "OK, I'm sure it is a lot different."

Zuckerberg added that one of the issues was that he was in it with a long-term view, 
which most investors are not if you go public, which he admitted was a "challenge". 
He also addressed concerns over privacy, explaining that Facebook's meteoric growth 
had meant the company had been caught out while it was in "transition". However, he 
added that the changing face of how privacy is perceived now that users are in a digital 
age meant that there were always going to be "natural tensions".

"Six years ago most people didn't want any information about themselves on web," he 
said. "To start off people were a bit reticent about this. Then over time people think it is 
great to be connected and share things. I think the world looks a lot different now. There 
is a real natural tension between people seeing the value of sharing more stuff but 
wanting control over what they share."

Zuckerberg added that as Facebook developed it built privacy controls for everything. 
At one point there were more than 100 individual settings users could change, which it 
had been important to simplify as the company had to "transition [and be] pretty quick 
to adjust and evolve to 500 million users".

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