Tag Archives: mark zuckerberg

Modern World “Sharing”

While it was a lifetime or two ago, I learned a ton while doing my MBA.  With all the noise around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, I am reminded of one of the “ah-ha moments” from marketing classes.  In short, marketing was all about gaining and using information to get customers to buy your product or service.  Focus Groups.  Surveys.  Rewards Programs.  That was the one that threw this naive 20 something and had me paying attention…Rewards Programs?  Yes, rewards programs were created to track the customers buying patterns.  They were not created to “reward” me with rebates and coupons, they were there to get me to give them information – what I bought, how much, how often, etc.  In 1996 this was amazing news to me.  It opened an entirely new world of data and behavior, tracking and positioning.  I have never forgotten what I learned and it changed how I viewed the world.

Today we see Mark Zuckerberg being publicly “questioned” by members of Congress.  Optically it is clumsy at best, and often looks like a parent or grandparent feebly grasping at a generation and a world that has left them behind.  It is just bad.  It is bad for Facebook, it has to be wildly frustrating and trying for Mark Zuckerberg, it is certainly bad for Congress (heaven knows they do not need any help looking inept) and in the end it is bad for us as taxpayers.  How much money is being spent on this bit of theater?  And then the money that will be spent to enact laws and regulations, for studies and reports, hearings and findings.  However, what I find myself thinking as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica saga unfolds is another of those clichés I so love, “live by the sword, die by the sword”.

Professionally and personally I am indifferent when it comes to social media.  It is simply another “thing” that is part of the world.  It has a purpose and a place, but I view it much as I view a hammer, a phone, a wrench or a vehicle.  It is a tool.  I use it as I need it, but am neither emotionally nor financially attached.  And much like anything and everything in this world, it can be used for good and for bad.  It is a tool.  The tool does nothing.  The user does everything.

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have been open from the beginning about what they do and how they make money.  Facebook created a platform to share information.  Simple.  Note the word share; Facebook never took anything, it received everything.  Much like “rewards programs”, “rebate offers” or the “first one is free”, Facebook was about gathering information and then using said information to drive revenue.  Users give, Facebook takes.  Facebook then sells what users gave.  Plain, simple, and direct.

People wanted a platform to share their stories, their lives, their photos, their likes, their dislikes, their frustrations, their loves, and yes their secrets.  Social media has brought families closer, it has made the world smaller, it has enhanced cross cultural understanding, it has bridged the generational gap, it has opened minds.  It has also served as an echo chamber, a source of vindication and reinforcement for troubled souls the world over and been used to intimidate, bully and harm.  Above all, social media is a tool.  An unimaginably powerful tool that is used to shape and manipulate behavior, for both good and ill.  Sharing information of any sort is a choice.  And with all choices come consequences, and there in lies the cliché.  People want an open, sharing world, they will live in an open and sharing world.  The information you share can and will be used.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.

In the spirit of irony, that cliché, like many, has its roots in The Bible. Matthew 26:52 if anyone is interested. The Bible and the Ancient Greeks are almost always the original source. Funny how that works.

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Filed under Current affairs, NMS, Politics

Defending…Facebook?

Defending is a bit strong. In support of, or just being a fan of – also too much.  The better phrase might actually be chapeau! Look, I am no “Facebooker” (okay, this blog is linked to Facebook) but as we continue hearing stories about the Facebook IPO debacle, its plummeting share value, and all the other tales of the evils of Facebook, I found myself reflecting on the impact of Facebook over the last decade.

Yes, I completely understand, it is a time suck, a silly distraction, and there are countless stories of “Facebook bullying”, “stalking”, “Farmville”, and other completely useless things that go with Facebook.  And of course the privacy issues…based on what one chooses to disclose of course.  And let us not forget to mention that for a CEO and visionary, Mark Zuckerberg has to be one of the most publicly unlikable guys of the last decade. I have never met the man, have zero first hand, or even second or third hand knowledge of him, but “warm and fuzzy” is not a phrase that springs to mind when one thinks of Mr. Zuckerberg.

And of course there is the ongoing stream of “Facebook IPO” stories…overvalued, over-hyped, insiders made all the money, and on and on.  I have no dog in this fight, but seriously, if the flipping founder and CEO says anything but “we are focused on making money”, it is probably NOT a wise investment.  That would be a wonderful charity, but not necessarily a wise investment.

All of the above said, here is why I decided to pause and give a tip of the hat to Facebook:

– No question, we are all more connected.  For good or bad, it has brought a sizeable chunk of the world closer together.

– Guerilla marketing and small business.  The ability to “bootstrap” businesses, to reach out to potential and existing clients – absolutely unbelievable.  Facebook has empowered the launch and expansion of a host of small businesses.  Think about it…Facebook has absolutely pulverized barriers to entry when it comes to getting the message out there.

– On that topic of “getting the message out there” – fund-raising, charities, bake sales, community service drives, church or social functions – it is amazing the instant communication and the reach…for good.

– “The Social Network” effect.  Extended family, long ago friendships renewed, classmates found, family photos, the grandparents actually being able to literally see their grandchildren growing up half a world away.  It is incredible…it really is just flat amazing.

– Revolution, messages, communication, and connectivity.  From “the Arab Spring”, to the Obama Campaign of 2008, to the ongoing ability of Peoples across the world to “get the word out”, the idea of shutting off a people or country from the rest of the world is so last century.  Facebook and Twitter are banned and feared by totalitarian regimes…that is amazing when you think about it.

– It is free!  Literally, it costs nothing to use.  Zero.

All of the above said, the tipping point for me was when a 17-year-old said last week  “no one is on Facebook anymore”.  I realized then the shine truly was off Facebook.  Who knows what the future might hold, and if Mr. Zuckerberg would like to shoot me a note, I have some ideas on how he can increase revenue, but it was time to remember what was before the explosion of that silly website and app.

In complete candor, the other day was my birthday.  Say what you will, but hearing from a lot of old friends, extended family, close friends, colleagues, and just those who have impacted you along the way, well, it is pretty flipping amazing really.  Chapeau Facebook!

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Filed under Business, Current affairs

Facebook, Innovation, Entrepreneurs and the High Road

It is tough when you are cut just before the big break.  Anyone that played sports probably knows the feeling.  Even MJ was cut once, or so goes the story.  Not many people remember Pete Best, and when they do it is as the guy that Ringo replaced. Well, a new generation has a new face for being “cut right at the moment of greatness” – Eduardo Saverin, one of the co-founders of Facebook. Thanks to the success of the recently released movie “The Social Network” his story as a co-founder is there for all to see.

What is apparent from the movie is that Mr. Saverin, to one degree or another, got the proverbial “short end of the stick” in his dealings with his former partner.  Granted, it is a movie, but there is no denying that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook made billions while Eduardo Saverin was left behind. Not to worry, Eduardo Saverin, thanks to a bit of help from the courts, has done quite well all things being equal.  It is not the financial success that is striking about Mr. Saverin, but rather the high road he took in his column last week on CNBC.  He could have been bitter, jaded, or even tried to ever so gently enhance his part of the story. He did nothing of the sort, rather he took the high road.

It is a great read.  He espouses opportunity, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.  That others have the chance he and his partners did to create, to innovate, to be entrepreneurs, and above all to succeed.  His closing paragraph is amazing:

While watching the “Hollywood version” of one’s college life is both humbling and entertaining, I hope that this film inspires countless others to create and take that leap to start a new business. With a little luck, you might even change the world.

What a great story and example of how to conduct oneself – always.  Well done on a host of levels.  Of course having a billion or so in equity helps.

In the event anyone needs another reminder that taking the high road is always the best course – there is that other classic story of being cut just before the big win…Herb Brooks.  As in coach Herb Brooks and the 1980 “Miracle on Ice”.  The same Herb Brooks who as a player was the last man cut from the 1960 US Olympic Hockey Team – the only other one that has won olympic gold. Karma is a funny thing sometimes.

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Filed under Coaching, Current affairs, leadership