Facebook Promotes fbStart at Global Entrepreneurship Summit

June 28, 2016 - 2 minutes read

President Obama and Mark Zuckerburg shared the stage at last week’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit to draw attention to tech and small business in the American economy.

While the thrust of the talk was aimed at increasing support and diversity among startups and mobile app developers, Zuckerburg used the stage time to promote a little-known but potentially disruptive new Facebook initiative: FbStart, a platform under the Internet.org umbrella created to streamline the support and mentorship process for early-stage startups. The program will be closely watched by the San Francisco mobile app development community as the tech industry grows more diverse.

For Facebook, the big picture is increasing information access for marginalized groups. Said Zuckerburg, “the main thing I’m focused on is connectivity. If you grew up and never used a computer or had access to the internet, it’s hard to imagine what you’ve been missing out on. We need to do a better job of empowering folks in different countries to spread connectivity.”

To that end, the summit also featured a group of entrepreneurs from Cuba, highlighting the increasingly international nature of the startup industry. While the Facebooks and Twitters of today spring from ivy-league universities and resource-rich cities, the hot startups of tomorrow are likely to be a more eclectic bunch. At least, Google and Facebook certainly seem to be betting on it, with both companies aggressively seeking to get involved with entrepreneurs outside the first-world bubble.

Obama’s statements seemed overall more relaxed and open-Internet-friendly, describing a problem with governments worldwide seeking the benefits of tech and mobile development while simultaneously trying to impose top-down control measures.

Obama also noted the problem with hate speech and radicalization on social networks, stating to mobile app developers in the crowd that it was important that governments not over-react to the dangers of connectivity. Overall, the benefits of open communications outweigh the potential abuses of that technology.

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