Mark Zuckerberg’s been having a rough go of it of late. I’m not saying it’s an infallible bellwether. But when you take heat in two articles published in Inc. on the same day, chances are your decision-making is something less than exemplary.
On February 4, Inc. published an article entitled, “Facebook Just Had Its Most Disappointing Quarter Ever. Mark Zuckerberg’s Response Is the 1 Thing No Leader Should Ever Do”. It’s chock-full of pertinent goodies. But the money quote is this:
Mark Zuckerberg pointed at two tech rivals as the source of Facebook’s problems: Apple and TikTok … “People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time, and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly,” Zuckerberg said. “And this is why our focus on [Facebook’s newest video product] Reels is so important over the long-term. As is our work to make sure that our apps are the best services out there for young adults.” Then, Zuckerberg repeated the same finger-pointing at an all-hands meeting on Thursday … he again told employees that the company’s focus was on Reels … a direct copy from TikTok …. The thing is, you’re never going to be a better version of your competition.
That’s clear and present evidence of COTUS (Center of the Universe Syndrome). Zuck’s always been the center of his own universe. But maybe $89.6 billion in personal net worth — even after a $31 billion loss — is enough of a cocoon to keep one sufficiently shielded from the interests of his own company, let alone reality.
On the same day, Inc. published another article called, “The Real Reasons Facebook Tanked”. The article makes much of the fact that Facebook’s products and its brand are aging and that its demographic targets should have been shifting. But this is the kill shot:
It’s hard to keep people loving on your brand when they can’t trust whether you’re keeping their data private, when they know that you’re playing favorites while enforcing rules, and when they’re painfully aware that you’re making money hand over fist by spreading poisonous misinformation. As a result, nobody trusts Zuckerberg or his judgment, all of which casts a deep pallor on the metaverse strategy, which (if he and his firm still held substantial brand goodwill) might otherwise cause investors to overlook other problems.
To paraphrase: If you take your eye off the ball, don’t act surprised when you lose it.
Hubris by Any Other Name
Zuck’s specific problem is that he’s always been the fair-haired boy; the wunderkind; the self-absorbed, Harvard dropout, would-be genius. His bigger and more general problem is that ego will never allow you to be wrong. It will never allow you to question or to be questioned. It will never allow you to be open-minded enough to embrace the disparate perspectives and ideas on which innovation depends.
It’s 2022. The world is changing faster by the minute. No innovation, no future.
If you’d rather be right than be successful, you won’t be either one.
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.