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This question may sound silly, but I’m serious: What Was Facebook?
Did you know that Facebook has a dating service, an online job listing, a version of Craigslist, a new podcast collection and a live audio chat room, multiple copies of Zoom, a section just for college students. school, two different places for “TV” shows, a feature like TikTok (but lousy) and software that office workers can use to communicate? On Tuesday, the company also outlined new developments in an effort to attract more businesses to sell directly in Facebook and other company apps.
If you know that Facebook is doing all this… gold stars, I guess. You spend too much time on the internet.
These trillion-dollar experiments could turn Facebook from where we connect with people who love gardening or shout about politics – I don’t know what Facebook could become. (Facebook may not know either.)
The company’s constant tinkering raises the question: Is Facebook trying so hard because it’s excited about what’s next, or perhaps because, like its peers, it’s no longer so successful? Proficient in anticipating and leading digital revolutions?
Attention should be paid to Facebook’s efforts to replicate or whatever it’s doing. We may not like to admit it, but Facebook’s choices represent how billions of people interact, how businesses reach their customers, and every other tech company’s strategy.
So what’s happening? Why is Facebook adding so many new features to its apps? I think part of it is that we’re running into a conundrum that many successful companies face: Is it better to focus on what made the company a star in the first place but have Risk of mismatch if miss out on the new big thing? Or is it smarter to go in new directions, but at the risk of tinkering so much that the company kills its golden goose?
I asked my colleague Mike Isaac, an astute follower of the inner workings of Facebook, whether Facebook is trying a lot of things out of optimism about new opportunities or out of anxiety about standing still. He said the answer is probably both.
On the optimistic side, the reality is that successful companies have a lot of power to repeat their success. Maybe Facebook’s clone of Zoom, TikTok or Nextdoor isn’t great, but the company has ways to push the billions of people using its apps to try them out, until everyone we know is trying. Zoom in on Facebook. Big Tech operates under a kind of Declarative Destiny – the belief that powerful companies can and are constantly pushing the boundaries of what they do in order to keep growing.
In terms of fear, it is perhaps ironic that a company that is sued and investigated for being too powerful can worry about failure. But Mark Zuckerberg, like many tech bosses, is haunted by the history of technology, in which evolutionary changes have repeatedly ruined what seemed like unstoppable industry leaders.
There is no guarantee that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp will remain the dominant media or entertainment choices for billions of people. It’s not certain that Facebook, which generates almost all of its revenue from selling ads to businesses that want our attention, will ever find a way to make real money from podcasts or from making WhatsApp an appropriate path. a clothing store or grocer that sells products.
Mike also raises a poignant question about both Facebook and Google, where some leaders fear that the company is no longer innovative enough. Have Big Tech companies become so big and successful that they have lost touch?
One reason Facebook is the company we know today is that Zuckerberg and other executives understood before most people how the internet – and most of all smartphones – will change our communication. people and gives Facebook new ways to profit from those interactions. Tech executives aren’t the best, but amazingly, Zuckerberg got a few big predictions right.
And Facebook’s leaders most likely hope that all these inventions will make it popular and wealthy for years to come.
Before we go…
Big Tech makes its case in Washington: My colleagues report on congressional legislation that could change or break up tech giants like Amazon and Google, Big Tech has mobilized its lobbying army in Washington. Outcry, including in a phone call between Apple executives and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is being met with some backlash from skeptical lawmakers.
“We are very free”: My colleagues and the ProPublica news organization have reviewed thousands of online videos that appear to show people in China’s Xinjiang region using very similar language to deny claims of oppression. government pressure. They found evidence that the videos were a coordinated campaign by the Chinese government to shape global public opinion by spreading propaganda on sites like YouTube and Twitter.
How not to ruin your work life with technology: For those who are partially working at the office and from home, Brian X. Chen recommends which technology to use (or not). Two ideas from his column: Consider taking a screen break at the end of each week and calling a colleague on Phone.
Two words: professional card. Seriously, the people who play this improved version of the game for kids are very fit.
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