What a difference three years can make in the tech world.
Facebook held its first F8 developer conference since 2011 on Wednesday -- and from CEO Mark Zuckerberg's talk about "loving" to new features that embrace anonymity, 2014's event was a decidedly different affair.
After a decade of existence, Facebook wants to enter a new era with its 1.28 billion users, and Zuckerberg made that clear from the start of his keynote address at the conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
"We used to have this famous mantra: 'Move fast and break things,'" Zuckerberg said. That mentality made sense for a startup, he explained, but Facebook is now 10 years out -- and as the business landscape of social media has changed, Facebook needs to as well.
A lot has already changed for Facebook and the tech space at large in just the three years since the social media giant's last F8.
Facebook became a publicly traded company, mobile eclipsed desktop as the hot platform and users have become both more savvy and more cautious about their private data.
All of those factors played into Facebook's announcements on Wednesday, starting with the most major example of its shift in thinking: Zuckerberg announced Anonymous Login, a new tool that will let users sign into apps and websites without sharing their personal information. The company also unveiled an option to let users choose what they share when logging in.
Anonymous Login is a huge departure for Facebook, which has long stressed the importance of using real identities online.
It's about putting "people first," Zuckerberg said.
That may sound like an obvious philosophy from a company that depends on people to be its product -- but it's a huge departure for Facebook, which has long stressed the importance of using real identities online.
“Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity," Zuckerberg famously said years ago.
Now, more control for users means less data available to developers -- who are immensely important to Facebook and are the true focus of F8.
Facebook spent a large portion of the event on new developer tools, namely: services that make it easier to develop and track mobile apps on Facebook, an "audience network" that will let developers serve mobile ads in their apps and a program that offers developers free tools and services worth up to $30,000.
"Facebook has to balance a quality user experience with still pleasing the developers, whom the company can't do without."
"Facebook has to balance a quality user experience with still pleasing the developers, whom the company can't do without," Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University, told NBC News.
Zuckerberg returned to the user side of that balance when he reclaimed the stage at the end of Wednesday's event.
He struck an unusually sentimental tone, discussing personal milestones like the 10-year anniversary of meeting his wife and his thirtieth birthday, as well as the 10-year mark for Facebook.
"We have this really strong hacker culture at Facebook and it's helped us grow ... but it's really been focused on us," Zuckerberg said.
Instead, Zuckerberg wants to instill "a culture of loving the people we serve, as strong as our hacker culture if not stronger."
"It's an honor to serve you and our mission," he concluded.
Going forward, Zuckerberg said Facebook will now hold an F8 conference every year.
First published April 30 2014, 12:51 PM