Facebook roundup: new board member, free VoIP, group messages and more

Susan Desmond-HellmannFacebook names UCSF chancellor to board – Facebook this week named UC San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann to its board of directors. Desmond-Hellmann was previously president of product development at Genentech, where Facebook CFO David Ebersman previously served as chief financial officer. Desmond-Hellmann is also on the board at Procter & Gamble, a major advertiser on the social network. Desmond-Hellmann will receive an annual retainer fee of $50,000 and 20,000 restricted stock units, which will vest over four years. Facebook’s other board members are Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Marc Andreessen, Erskine Bowles, James Breyer, Don Graham, Reed Hastings and Peter Thiel.

messengerFacebook brings free calling to some Android users – An update to Messenger for Android this week includes free voice calling for users in Canada. The feature is available to iOS users in several territories, but this is the first instance of it in the Android app. Users can call their friends who also have the latest version of Messenger and talk for free over Wi-Fi or using their existing data plan.

iOS Messenger update focuses on group conversations – The latest version of Messenger for iOS released this week includes a number of updates related to group messaging. A new prompt encourages users to name their conversations with multiple friends — a feature that was previously buried. The app also supports search for existing group conversations, whereas before users could only search for friends and other users to message. Facebook also says users can access their group messages from the chat sidebar by swiping left, but we did not find this feature.

group-message

smb marketing15M business pages now on Facebook – There are more than 15 million business pages on the social network, Facebook Director of Small Business Dan Levy announced this week at the Borell’s Local Advertising Conference in New York. That’s up from 13 million announced in December. Overall including fan pages for celebrities, community organizations and other interests, there are more than 50 million pages with ten or more Likes on Facebook. Levy also shared that more than 8 million accounts using the Pages Manager app since it launched last year.

Facebook looks for office space near roots at Harvard – The company is reportedly seeking 7,000 square feet of space in an area of Cambrige, Mass., near Harvard University for three dozen software engineers that would be hired this year. The office would also be near MIT, another top source of talent. Microsoft, Google and Nokia also have offices in Cambridge

unified-logoUnified updates enterprise software with News Feed in mind – Social marketing company Unified this week announced the latest quarterly release of its Social Operating Platform, which includes new tools to optimize brands’ Facebook posts and help them determine which to promote with paid media. The Minilytics application is a feature that came from PageLever, a Facebook analytics company that Unified acquired in January. Unified also introduced support for Foursquare advertising, adding to options for ad campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and YouTube.

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