Mark Zuckerberg has grown Facebook from a college experiment into an internet powerhouse. However, it was his trip to India that helped create the company we know today.
Zuckerberg recently appeared at a Facebook Town Hall Q&A session with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Menlo Park, California campus. On stage, he explained how a little known conversation with Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, influenced the direction of Facebook.
“Early on in our history when things weren’t really going well — we had hit a tough patch and a lot of people wanted to buy Facebook — I went and I met with Steve Jobs, and he said that to reconnect with what I believed was the mission of the company, I should go visit this temple in India that he had gone to early in the evolution of Apple, when he was thinking about what he wanted his vision of the future to be.”
As reported by Business Insider, Mark Zuckerberg took Jobs’ advice and went to visit this Indian temple. While in India, he observed the connections people made and realized if people had a better way to connect and communicate, the world would be a better place. The visit to the country only reaffirmed the mission of Facebook to connect people worldwide and Zuckerberg went on to refuse to compromise on this mission.
Now, Zuckerberg wants to work to make India a better place by expanding the internet and Facebook’s reach into the country. Prime Minister Modi said he is happy India kept Zuckerberg grounded and played such a crucial role in Facebook’s past. However, he also hoped that Zuckerberg’s intention was for the good of India’s citizens and not just to increase Facebook’s bank account.
Facebook is already playing an important role in India. With internet.org, an initiative led by Facebook, millions of people in India are now able to access the internet for the first time. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Zuckerberg believes having internet access can help bring people and communities out of poverty.
According to The Guardian, the Q&A with Zuckerberg had many Facebook employees in the audience who came specifically to learn how their company will play a role in expanding internet access in India.
Speaking to the Guardian, a 37-year-old employee of Facebook is happy India will be on top of Zuckerberg’s list of priorities.
“We have been hearing from a lot of people here at work that India is a top priority, like China, and to have the prime minister here speaking it shows that there is a lot of excitement for us.”
Facing some criticism in the past regarding Facebook’s ambitious expansion goals in India, this session was seen by some as an attempt by Zuckerberg to rally support. He even changed his profile picture to include an Indian flag.
Later in the event, Prime Minister Modi and Zuckerberg went on to discuss how important social media is to democracy and the need for a stronger tech infrastructure.
Over some rumbling from the crowd about how the Indian government limits access to certain websites, Modi was asked about how social media has become a tool for governing, citizen engagement, and foreign policy. He explained that social media is now crucial to his government and how it connects with citizens every day. “We used to have elections every five years. Now we have them every five minutes,” he joked.
Interestingly, Modi never intended to ever have a Facebook account, but started one out of curiosity. Now that he has become the prime minister, his account boasts tens of millions of followers and that initial curiosity with social media has significantly helped Mark Zuckerberg’s campaign to increase Facebook’s popularity in India.
The one item left out by Zuckerberg during the event was any mention of specific details about increased connectivity between Facebook and India. We do know that he not only wants to bring the internet to all Indian citizens, but he has made it undeniably clear that he wants to lead the charge to bring the internet to everyone on the planet. And thanks to a quiet visit to an Indian temple in Zuckerberg’s past, Facebook now has the power and influence to do it.
[Photos courtesy: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Prime Minister photo courtesy The Guardian]