Do you remember a few years ago when there were all these debates about how young and inexperienced he was, about the meltdown he had when being interviewed by Kara Swisher, etc. There was the entire IPO fiasco, etc. It’s safe to say that many have doubted his abilities.
I’ve been a believer for a long time in both him and in Facebook. Back in 2011 (seems so long ago), I wrote this piece:
At the time, he was just outside the top 50 in terms of net worth and he’s been climbing the rankings ever since apart from those few months following the IPO. How good has his run been?
Zuck added $12B to his net worth in 2013 and over $3B so far this year.
He now sits at #21 in the Bloomberg world rankings and given he continues to hold nearly all of his money in his Facebook stake, I personally think that will continue to climb.
There continue to be major challenges for Facebook but I think he’s tackling these issues the right way.
The big challenge that most web companies have faced in recent years is the shift to mobile. These days, more Facebook users visit the site using a mobile site than a desktop, which creates many challenges (smaller screens = less ads) which most websites are struggling with.
Facebook has been able to integrate ads into the content and now makes most of its money from mobile advertising.
While Facebook remains the clear dominant social network, there is more competition from ever both from big players (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Tumblr) and smaller ones (Snapchat, Path, etc) but I think that again Zuckerberg has been leading Facebook very carefully. First off, he’s been looking to buy some of these players and succeeded with Instagram which was a clear hit.
The other initiative is the creation of Facebook Labs which will focus on standalone products such as the newly launched Facebook Paper. I think this is brilliant. Facebook is amazing but one challenge is getting all of the functions and uses into a mobile screen. Running standalone products such as Paper (focused on news), Instagram (photos) will achieve a few different goals:
-Creating Products People Want: Facebook serves a critical purpose but users are also looking for simple apps that focus on one goal.
-Getting More Eyes: In a world where users tend to limit navigation within apps on mobile devices, it’s important to have several different apps. Google has its main Google app but also Gmail, Google+, Youtube, Google Maps and others. Facebook has its main app, Instagram, its messenger, paper and will hopefully add more.
What Makes Zuckerberg Unique
More than perhaps anyone else in the business, Mark Zuckerberg is willing to risk it all by making big moves that may or may not pan out and is willing to risk failure over and over again. Some argue that Facebook’s Paper will hurt its main product and that could end up being the case but he is willing to risk it. The launch of a Facebook phone clearly did not work out as is the case for other ventures but the company continues to march ahead.
Would you bet for or against Mark Zuckerberg with a 5-10 year horizon?
Disclosure: Long Facebook (FB)