ONA16 Keynote: A Candid Look at Facebook Product Development

We’re excited to announce our opening keynote for ONA16: A rare, candid and fascinating look into product development at one of the world’s largest and best-known tech companies.

On Thursday, Sept. 15, attendees are invited to a fireside chat with Fidji Simo, Facebook’s Director of Product and CNN’s Senior Director of Social News Samantha Barry, an incisive leader whose background ranges from training journalists around the world on creating social content for various platforms to making strategic decisions about when and how to use Facebook to support CNN’s news coverage.

Facebook is the largest multimedia platform on the planet, with more than one billion users per day. Its reach alone makes the company’s influence on digital news and content distribution difficult to overstate. Add to that an astonishing number of features and products released over the last 16 months, all of which introduced fascinating news opportunities for publishers.

While the potential reach of these products is groundbreaking, each major decision Facebook makes now has a profound impact on how communities receive and interact with news — and not every decision favors news publishers.

To name just a few developments this year:

  • Facebook Live, essentially a live streaming platform for mobile phones, was launched. While its core is similar in functionality to Meerkat and Periscope, the sheer size of Facebook’s audience made it instant competition. The launch also included a map to explore public broadcasts happening around the world.
  • An adjustment to the algorithm powering News Feed promotes updates from friends and family over publishers’ content.
  • The company shut down Paper, its eye-catching news-reading app.
  • Instant Articles, a product designed to host media content and make articles load faster and appear more fully integrated into News Feed’s design, is made available to all publishers.

Our conversation will touch on all things product, allowing ONA16 attendees to gain critical insights into how decisions are made. We’ll also discuss how Facebook continues to evolve its offerings and the impact those choices will have on publishers.

Fidji Simo sqFidji Simo is a Director of Product who leads the product teams in charge of Media (Video, News, Influencers) and Advertising in News Feed. Most recently, she launched Live videos, videos and video ads that autoplay in News Feed, and Instant Articles. She was also in charge of simplifying Facebook’s ad product suite from 27 ad formats to only 7. Fidji joined Facebook from eBay. There, she was part of the Strategy group and rotated through eBay’s main offices of France, Spain and the US, then joined eBay’s incubation team to develop new growth businesses. She holds a Master of Management from HEC Paris and spent the last year of her Master program at UCLA Anderson School of Business.

Samantha Barry serves as CNN’s head of social media and senior director of social news, managing the company’s global social media teams. Her teams span social publishing, news-gathering, digital and TV and are responsible for the largest social accounts of any news brand in the world. The path from Ireland to the US has been a global one for Samantha, who, after stints in RTE and Newstalk, travelled the world working for ABC Australia and the US State Department, training young journalists in creating content for social media platforms, before taking a role at BBC World News in London. Samantha is also currently a Sulzberger Fellow at Columbia University and a guest-lecturer at Yale.