Facebook, a Company without a Vision

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Mark zuckerberg f8 a l
Image via TrueRep

Facebook quietly retreated from its passive sharing model two weeks ago representing a departure from its current vision.

For those unfamiliar with passive sharing, it was originally and controversially dubbed frictionless sharing when Timeline was introduced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg one year ago. Frictionless sharing applications share every read or view of a site, whether or not the person is on Facebook.

Zuckerberg’s vision of every aspect of peoples’ lives shared with their friends included frictionless sharing as a core component.

This very same vision was dealt another blow two weeks ago when European regulators struck an agreement with Facebook that forces the company to delete facial recognition data garnered from public surveillance cameras.

The agreement is expected to hamper Facebook’s ability to monetize its photos in Europe where 1/3 of its revenue comes from, as well as impact photo privacy policy in the United States.

Overall, we are seeing that people are not comfortable sharing the mundane details of their existence, from what they read to which friends they visit frequently.

Resistance to a frictionless shared world significantly reduces the likelihood of Zuckerberg’s vision coming to fruition.

No Vision, No Future

lost
Image via gorbot

Without a viable vision, one must wonder what the future holds for Facebook?

It doesn’t look good.

If you don’t have a vision for a company and its offerings, decline will likely occur.

And Facebook is experiencing a significant decline in desktop usage. U.S. comScore data shows August time spent down 12% pro forma. Business Insider reports, “The usage declines are most pronounced among those who were once Facebook’s most devoted users: Young people.”

The only thing we hear from Facebook these days is its commitment to drive increased advertising revenue from Timeline (the core platform for frictionless sharing), and the importance of mobility. There’s no end goal in sight, and brewing storm clouds.

In my opinion, it’s time for Mark Zuckerberg to step down as CEO.

He should be commended for a great job getting the social network to this point. But it’s very clear that he cannot provide the company a vision that can successfully transitions it into a successful public company.

What do you think about frictionless sharing and the state of Facebook?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/michele.price Michele Price

    Great point. At every turn of any business growth, you need new leadership that possesses the qualities to take it through that phase. Mark has gone as far as I think he can for this phase. Will his ego or arrogance allow him to gain clarity on this, who knows?

    I think you are on point and Facebook has some tough decisions ahead.

    • geofflivingston

      I think it will be very hard for him to let go. He is so intrinsically associated with Facebook. Yeah, it’s going to be tough!

  • http://twitter.com/rustyspeidel rustyspeidel

    I just don’t think a biz model that depends on the goodwill of others to share the private lives without restriction is a particularly viable model. If the money comes from violating my privacy, it’s toast.

    • geofflivingston

      I couldn’t agree more. I think the statistical decline, which far surpasses mobile growth during that month, is a huge indicator. One month doesn’t make a full on decline, but there are more and more storm clouds brewing for Facebook.

  • http://twitter.com/rustyspeidel rustyspeidel

    And, I think the idea the idea of monetizing “facial recognition data garnered from public surveillance cameras” is just plain creepy.

  • SusanMKuhn

    I think you have nailed it.

    It’s hard to turn a battleship. On the other hand, new, lighter craft are emerging. The game is putting together the flotilla that will fight the battle that matters to you and your company. It’s a story that is told over and over again. Thanks for the clarity.

    • geofflivingston

      Well said, Susan! And yeah, the battleship has gotten too big. Can you really see Facebook retreating from Timeline at this point?

  • http://www.jeffgibbard.com/ Jeff Gibbard

    There’s little chance that Zuck would step down but in truth I think it’d be the best thing for the company. The biggest reason for Zuck to step down isn’t even about vision, it’s about trust. Zuck is at the forefront of the privacy backlash and his actions are the reason why people don’t trust Facebook. If he did step down, many would view it as Facebook “jumping the shark” however many more would probably see it as the moment when Facebook began to rebuild its credibility.

    • geofflivingston

      Good points! I also think he was the right guy to start the company but probably is no longer the right guy to lead the company. Truthfully, he has no real experience as a CEO of a large public entity. Where’s the mentorship? Right?

  • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com Cendrine Marrouat

    I think that the day FB decided to stop caring about users and stepped away from its original goal (sharing among friends and family) to favor a money-targeted “vision”, it lost its credibility.

    • geofflivingston

      A lot of people seem to keep using it, but I do think many have become leery of what to say and share. And can you blame them? Privacy issues and grandparents online both, oh my!

  • Jayme Soulati

    Here’s how much I don’t pay attention to Facebook’s mishaps and continued alterations to a channel we used to love — I never knew anything about frictionless sharing. Call me ignorant or stupid; but Facebook has been on a downhill slide since it went public. The stars became misaligned and its customer base (youth) eroded…where are they now? Pinterest?

    Like the millennials who ping pong from job to job seeking excitement and satisfaction without the dues-paying ethic of yore, there needs to be the next new channel to entice them to stick around.

    Can’t Zuke see that? After all, he’s one of them. Perhaps you’re right — step aside and let the adults run a publicly traded company, eh?

    • geofflivingston

      What’s Pinterest? Man, I can’t stand that network, LOL.

      Yeah, it’s been clear for a while that things were off and now that’s being reflected in traffic. We’ll see what happens next for Zuck and company. He may be there for a long while and we watch the bomb happen.

  • Tony
    • geofflivingston

      Delete´╗┐

  • alex

    thanks

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    I don’t think the frictionless sharing was ever going to work. I *always* log out of Facebook, I clean my cache regularly, and I think I’ve only accepted one app over the last year. People have always been sensitive to privacy issues on Facebook – I still know people who adamantly refuse to use it because of privacy issues. To me, these are changes that were bound to occur. I think Zuckerberg still has a vision, but he is out of touch with people, so his vision is cloudy.

    • geofflivingston

      Cloudy vision = storms, look out Facebook! Thank you for the comment, Margie!

  • http://twitter.com/AdamBroitman Adam Broitman

    Yikes, I could not DISAGREE more, my bald brother. Facebook was built on vision and vision alone. In fact, Zuck’s vision can only be likened to that of Steve Jobs himself. If you look at the moves he has made over the years you can clearly see this in effect. I cannot go point by point as it would take too long and I have a conference call coming up but, if you have not read it, I suggest The Facebook Effect http://www.amazon.com/The-Facebook-Effect-Company-Connecting/dp/1439102112. (sorry for posting a book you may have read…I know it may seem condescending, but it is not meant to be. I was less of a fan before Kirkpatrick showed me the details)

    Zuckerberg is doing his best to balance his vision with what the world is ready for–perhaps he should be as heavy handed as Jobs and force his vision, but we saw where that got Jobs in the early days. Anyhow, I totally appreciate and respect your post and opinion and welcome future debate in which I can provide more substantive data points, but lately I am getting frustrated with the way that Wall Street and the data jockey’s are using information to create stories that are sensational at best.

    Thanks for getting my brain going before this call :)

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you for coming and offering a dissenting opinion. I think I’ll let it stand as is, and say crystal ball forecasting can be tough! We’ll see what happens. Thank you for the recommendation!

      • http://twitter.com/AdamBroitman Adam Broitman

        to be more specific (as I want for the call attendees) look at Beacon–it was created under his vision, but the implementation was off. Now it is essentially back in the form of Connect and everyone loves it. He is young, but he knows what he wants and what he believes in–frictionless sharing is not something the public is ready for. Dennis Crowley knows this, that is why he has not fully implemented passive location sharing. I think Zuck may just be rushing product development a bit, but eventually I think he will find the right balance. The world is becoming more open, there is no doubt of that–for Zuck to see that at such a young age is astounding. He is, without a doubt one of the greatest minds of our time and I trust he will figure it out. I have bet my own money on it!

        • geofflivingston

          Yeah, this time I have to disagree. I don’t think Beacon is Connect, I see them as two different technologies all together. Beacon was a social ad technology and Connect is social sign on. I don’t think Zuck is a great businessman either. We’re seeing that with ROI flailing and his blatant disregard for people’s privacy has eroded trust in the company to the point of current media debacles.

  • http://twitter.com/communicable communicable

    I wrote about Facebook’s ambition recently http://communicable.ca/2012/09/28/we-are-in-the-content-business-baby/ – in short, I disagree that Facebook has no vision. They are an ambitious company, and will soon be as ubiquitous as Google. Their business model as it stands now goes beyond “frictionless sharing”.

    • geofflivingston

      Hey, that’s cool. Thanks for bringing and sharing that story with your differing opinion. We’ll see what happens!´╗┐

  • http://www.theworld4realz.com/ Andi-Roo

    I’m always relieved to see another nay-sayer in the FB court, because I’ve been saying for a while now how unhappy I am with that platform. My reasons are personal more than professional — friends & family has just NOT been the place to support my blogging moves — but your more valid reasons just provide more fuel for my hate-fire. Down with FB!

    • geofflivingston

      Hahahahahaha! I’ve actually been thinking about significantly reducing my page friend count over the next months and going down to just family. I’m still debating it.

      • http://www.theworld4realz.com/ Andi-Roo

        Geoff, I have alienated most of my family & friends on FB because I am extremely irreverent. But – I’m also happy being me. So it’s a trade-off. Most of my friends on FB are now for the most part those I’ve picked up via Twitter & blogging – so people I’ve never met but who are enthusiastic about my blunt writing style.

        If you have friends & family on FB that support what you’re doing, you should appreciate that. I’d hesitate to cut down your friend count, unless your page is private. If that is the case, then yeah, snip away!

        Of course, this is all just my two-cents, so take it with a grain of salt! I wish everyone would just hop over to Twitter & drop FB for good!!!

        • geofflivingston

          Yeah, I have done the opposite, retreating and becoming vanilla. I hate it now!

          • http://www.theworld4realz.com/ Andi-Roo

            Don’t discount vanilla! You can reach a much more wider audience than I am able, because you aren’t offensive. Therefore, you have potential to make greater impact. That’s not a terrible thing, ya know! :)

    • http://twitter.com/Kimba_67 Kimberlee Lockhart

      Are you on Twitter?

      • http://www.theworld4realz.com/ Andi-Roo

        @theworld4realz

  • http://twitter.com/dinodogan Dino Dogan

    Facebook was driven by the passion of its founder. That is no longer the case. Passions diminish over time, and all signs point to Mark’s passion being someplace else.

    What do you do after you change the way people communicate online? What do you do after you connect the globe?

    Figure out how to make money with it? That sound boring.

    Mark got married, Facebook went public, powerful interests started meddling with Mark’s baby, and he checked out. Or he will very soon. It’s just not official yet.

    Anyways…I didnt know they put the kaybash on frictionless sharing. Thats good news :-)

    • geofflivingston

      I think all parties will be happier if Zuck steps down. We’ll see if it actually happens. People have a bad habit of hanging in there longer than they should!!!

  • http://twitter.com/Kimba_67 Kimberlee Lockhart

    I love Facebook for bringing me together with my old friends but then I realized I don’t really like those people. I’ve moved on to Twitter.

    • geofflivingston

      Hahahahahahaha! That’s a funny story, LOL!

  • ashvini_saxena

    I believe that Zuckerberg may be a great technocrat and entrepreneur but he lacks the vision that is needed to make a business out of facebook, a vision that does not turn its customers( or users) away.
    I think he needs to understand that by leaving post of CEO to a another person ( who has competent skills ) he would not be diminished in stature. He has done a very good job of taking an idea and making it astonishingly successful. However as competition is snapping on the heels, he needs someone else to hold the charge. The competition is still nowhere close to what Facebook has achieved but then often empires fall because of their own rulers and not from any external threat

    • geofflivingston

      I think it is amazing how competition is really reshaping this picture. From Pinterest to App.net, tons of competitors are nipping at Facebook’s heels!

  • socialmitch

    You’re funny … he needs to step down in your opinion? Do you have any understanding of just how Facebook operates? You see, there’s more to it than likes and comments. The underlying Facebook Platform is incredibly rich with data and is flourishing just fine … Facebook Connect, the Open Graph are a few of the features that are part of the platform … with a billion users rish with data … this platform isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

    • geofflivingston

      Your funny, too. I understand big data, and I also understand that the platform has failed to extrapolate that data effectively yet for advertisers.

      • socialmitch

        Failed?

  • http://twitter.com/nnmeehan Nick Meehan

    I’m not sure Zuckerberg has enough humility to step down as CEO; he’s become a house-hold name and is behind one of the companies that has helped usher in a new era of internet communication.

    I don’t see him stepping down willfully. I think it will take a shareholder outcry to remove him. I believe he is still the majority shareholder, although I could be mistaken.

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