Why Mark Zuckerberg’s Former Roommate Loves Facebook

Posted: May 7, 2011 in Analysis, Facebook, facebook(news), news

Why Mark Zuckerberg’s Former Roommate Loves Facebook

Every time a conference agenda mentions Facebook, eyes light up—or roll, according to who is reading.

On Day 2 of Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenships annual conference Making the Connection, the CEO of Causes, the philanthropic partner of Facebook, was the superstar. Wearing a three-piece suit to an event where the other panelists showed up in more casual attire, Joe Green was not only the surprise element for the morning’s keynote plenary but also the youngest and most entrepreneurial speaker.

First off: what is Causes and who is Joe Green:

Facebook & Causes

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, which called Green one of technology’s best young entrepreneurs:

While his former Harvard roommate, Mark Zuckerberg, was off running Facebook, Joe Green was busy studying and drumming up online support for the causes he found most compelling. As an organizer, Green’s main hurdle was getting do-gooders to raise consciousness about a cause among friends and their social network. So when Facebook made it easier for outside developers to build applications for its site, Green saw the opportunity.

Causes is known most famously for helping smaller nonprofits attract campaigning and the support that they otherwise could not afford. Green’s philosophy of “equal opportunity,” has been successful, with Causes raising more than $2 million in the first year since launching in May, 2007.

Today that figure stands at $40 million.

The Power of Social Media (mostly Facebook)

And Green was at the BCCCC conference to discuss the power of social media (mostly Facebook—as Realized Worth’s Chris Jarvis tweeted, Joe Green is nowhere to be found on Twitter) and how companies can best adopt the channel to do good and build positive brand awareness.

After taking the attendees through a historical tour of how Causes came about (Green was Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate at Harvard), Green threw out some statistics:

  • In 1998, there were 65 million internet users in the U.S. or 24% of all Americans.
  • In 2011, there are 230 million internet users in the US alone or 75% of the population.

His argument? Consumers are no longer passive but “active producers.”

Facebook Provides Validation…

The idea of “community” has evolved radically to today’s “social network,” he continued. “And Facebook represents this online identity for most people. It provides real validation.”

Green also made fun of the “Happy Birthday” feature on Facebook, calling it social media’s Christmas.

“You’re being wished by anyone and everyone. You’re loving it, you’re the center of attention, you’re validated. Your life is worthy,” he commented.

How does Causes fit in?

That is the real—and hidden—power of social networks, said Green. “The opportunity these provided for companies and individuals to create identities and then use them to pursue and advocate for what you believe in is endless,” adding, “[These channels] give you the chance to authentically engage people on things that matter the most.”

“They are also massively viral. Without social networks, you’re not the coolest thing on the Christmas list, and you’re not getting any bite.”

…But also Conflicts

Green’s analogies, while sarcastic and playful, sat well with most attendees. The problem?

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