Facebook held a cocktail reception in Davos last month. It featured a speech by Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, held in a “pop-up” building on the main drag in Davos, quite near the convention center and the hotel where all the most important parties happen. Given rent in the neighborhood that week, it had to have cost a fortune.
Every journalist with an impressive-sounding job title who made their way to Switzerland was at the party. It was like a cross between an alumni reunion and an awards dinner with all of your closest competitors.
I can’t tell you a thing about what Sandberg said that night because Facebook (FB) deemed the evening off the record. That’s somehow fitting. Under attack for not doing enough to stop fake news while plying the very journalists whose revenues it is sucking dry with food and drink, Facebook prefers to let its business do the talking.
Its business speaks volumes. Despite a promised slowdown in ad-revenue growth, the advertising behemoth reported a monster quarter Wednesday. It earned more than $3.5 billion in the fourth quarter, more than double the year-earlier period. As Fortune’s Mathew Ingram notes, giant companies aren’t supposed to grow that fast. (Apple used to do this too; it partly returned to form Tuesday with its cheerful quarterly earnings report, triggering a market value gain of $40 billion Wednesday.) But Facebook keeps adding users: 1.8 billion people log in monthly.
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Even more impressively, Facebook has proved itself the master of the fabled pivot. First it piled onto mobile, after initially failing to see that the desktop web was dying. Now it is going whole hog into video, striking terror into the hearts of broadcasters as surely as it already has vanquished the ink-stained wretches with whom I sipped Champagne in the Swiss Alps.
Fake news? It may have altered the course of the republic but it didn’t faze Facebook. Sandberg told investors Wednesday that political advertising doesn’t even register in the company’s top 10 categories. “No one event is that big for our business,” she said, per The Wall Street Journal.
Party on, Facebook.