Don’t bet against Zuck

I have heard and read several people saying you don’t want to bet against Zuck.   I have no doubt he is brilliant, knowledgeable, and capable.   I’m not betting against him, but here is why I might.

Facebook has had an empirical innovation deficient.  They react to competitor innovation and do so effectively.  Their performance management and culture efficiently motivate and focus large group of employees on specific outcomes.   I also believe this ability of myopic targeting contributes to their social/political issues and lack of creativity.   

Zuck has attributed current issues:  TikTok, Apple, and the AR/VR future. TikTok is taking attention/users, Apple is reducing tracking/attribution and impacts ads, and the future medium is AR/VR requiring investment to be a key/dominant player.   Meta is very profitable and can be so for the next decade without any transition.   Zuck does not want to be the founder/CEO of IBM.  

The previous transition to mobile, which was also deemed uncertain, was riding a wave of technology that Facebook was not developing.   Users were transitioning to mobile.  Parts of the world were mobile-first.  Apple and Google were developing the new human/computer interface.  Facebook ported onto them.  Meta wants to own the next human/computer inference platform instead of transitioning to it.   The investment is heavy, and the current capability is higher than any existing product suggests.

The competition for this space is already Microsoft, Apple, and Google, plus all the gaming companies that are meta-verse adjacent.   Developing and iterating in uncertain spaces has not been a Facebook/Meta core competency.   I do not see the first-mover advantage for the company with the significant investment.   My current perspective is the future requires a large amount of innovation and discovery, and the company is terrific on short-term, concrete accomplishments.   In my estimation, Apple and Microsoft have more abilities in this area.

However, Meta is great at fast-follow.  Current investment in technology and employees allows the company to do its best with any new and successful innovations: copy.  There is still the issue of the developers, another area that Facebook has not excelled at.  

I am certainly not betting on Zuck, but also one I wouldn’t bet against him.  It would be amazing to see him pull it off.