Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Faceblah, Blah, Blah, Pt 91765
Guys, Facebook is not (just) having a PR crisis.
The PR crisis is an effect of a deeper cause: a poor capacity for strategic decision-making. Beacon isn't Facebook's first major error, remember.
Obviously, what's happening now won't feed through to growth yet - it's way too soon for that. But I don't think it's unreasonable, at this point, to assume a serious hit to growth in the near term (a few quarters from now).
The real question is - why is Facebook's capacity for decision-making so poor? Because, for all that Zuck has supposedly taken away from the real master of edge strategy - Google - he, and the rest of the team haven't really internalized much.
Facebook is a company that seems devoid of the capability to interact meaningfully at the edges.
Take a close look at what's happening. Almost every blog post critical of Facebook gets sock-puppeted to death.
Check what happened to poor Josh Quittner yesterday for writing what was actually a fairly incisive post. If those comments are for real - that deluge of comments, actually - I'm Dick Cheney.
It's been - what, a couple of weeks? - and no word from anyone at Facebook about anything of substance.
Facebook, I think, listens to stakeholders when it comes to minor-league stuff. But in this case, they're actively, deeply resisting learning from what's already a relative failure. And, of course, it's exactly learning from failure is one of the keys to mastering edge strategy.
Here's an example. I like what Dave has to say much of the time. But his latest post is perfect evidence of this.
Look - it's simple. Facebook should be learning from this episode (these episodes, actually). I don't actually think it can - I don't think that's in the Facebook DNA, but that's another story.
The point is: This is not about PR/spin/etc. Touting a future upside is an exercise in futility for a company that doesn't have the capacity for strategic decision-making.
Let me make the point even clearer.
Dave says: "...for a $15B valuation and $300M in cash, i can deal with a shitload of tomatoes."
Actually, it's exactly the reverse. A $15b valuation and $300m in cash give you the room to learn - from the people throwing them - how to turn shitloads of tomatoes into gold.
But if all you do with those resources is just have your PR drones carefully wipe the tomato off your face and tell you again how cool you really are - you're on the road to nowhere.
While various people have said Mark is a smart guy, I don't think he has the wisdom to be CEO. Nor is it a age related thing. He just doesn't have the character or wisdom to make viable CEO like-decisions. Certainly a President of Products but the company really, really could do with some wisdom at the top.
Nor do I get the impression he will/can learn wisdom or character prior to further very dangerous problems. A little pressure should be brought to bear and move him across to President of Products.
umair: my point in writing that post *wasn't* that FB shouldn't be learning from the Beacon fiasco (they should be), however i *do* think that Josh's post was a little over the top.
it's certainly important for FB to have good communications with the press, and to figure out how to be open & "cluetrained in" when they're interacting with bloggers / reporters et al. they've occasionally had a tin ear in this area, but at the same time when you have tens of millions of users it's almost impossible not to have at least tens of thousands of haters.
still, whether or not they have bad press, it's A FAR CRY to suggest that their users are going to disappear anytime soon. to me, that was completely unjustifiable speculation, and journalistically irresponsible.
in summary: bad press? definitely. some lessons for them to learn on PR & communication? perhaps. perhaps. a burgeoning disaster that has lasting impact on their userbase? not friggin' likely.
- dave mcclure