23 December 2015

Fast Company: “Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Bold Plan for the Future of Facebook”

In the tech industry, there’s nothing weird about setting goals so lofty that they sound unachievable. Google CEO Larry Page, for instance, is so invested in the virtue of gambling on disparate, wildly ambitious projects—from self-driving cars to smart contact lenses—that he restructured his company around the concept in August, making Google’s core businesses a division of a new idea factory called Alphabet. Zuckerberg, by contrast, isn’t interested in doing everything—just the things he views as deeply related to his company’s central vision, and crucial to it. There are different ways to do innovation, he says, drawing a stark contrast without ever mentioning Page, Google, or Alphabet. You can plant a lot of seeds, not be committed to any particular one of them, but just see what grows. And this really isn’t how we’ve approached this. We go mission-first, then focus on the pieces we need and go deep on them, and be committed to them. Facebook’s mission is to give everyone in the world the power to share and make the world more open and connected, as Zuckerberg says, explaining that he is now spending a third of his time overseeing these future initiatives. These things can’t fail. We need to get them to work in order to achieve the mission.

Harry McCracken

Despite these comments meant to differentiate his company from Google, I see important similarities in the long-term strategies of both companies. Ultimately, at the core both Google and Facebook are advertising companies, so their business model requires that they should better understand users in order to provide better ads. And so both are heavily investing in AI research to make sense of people’s lives, in adjacent technologies to capture their attention for longer, and investing in expanding the user base by bringing better Internet connections to people in the developing world. They may be taking different routes to get there, but their roads run in the same general direction.

Mark Zuckerberg poster
Zuckerberg on Facebook: Very few people thought it was going to be a good business early on, which is why almost no one else tried to do it.

Also, what’s with the weird, slightly creepy header image? Makes Zuckerberg look a lot like Data from Star Trek…

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