News item — Murdoch’s News Corp ponders MySpace sale: Loss-making social networking site has found it tough competing with rivals Facebook and Twitter.
I have asked my students this question: “How many of you have a Myspace page? How about a Facebook page? My experience is this – Myspace came and went in the blink of an eye, and Facebook has come, and stayed, and all of my students not only have a Facebook page, but use it constantly. (In fact, my own son, who – how do I say this delicately?…, is not too interested in reading my blog posts…, actually reposted my recent blog post on obesity from my Facebook link to his Facebook link).
Facebook has clearly and soundly defeated Myspace, and at the moment no rival seems to be rising to make much of a dent in its dominance. Why?
Here’s one reason – Mark Zuckerberg is one of those rare business geniuses. Of course it takes a team: the right people with the right skills and the right chemistry working together throughout the entire enterprise… But it takes a singular vision from a key/the key player. Consider Steve Jobs. Consider Mark Zuckerberg.
But at the heart of this competition stands the focus of this modern day business genius – a constant, unyielding focus on innovation.
Here is a brief excerpt from a story about the decline of Myspace that captures this (from the Huffington Post, How News Corp Got Lost In Myspace by Yinka Adegoke, Reuters):
Zuckerberg’s great strength, say his one-time rivals from Myspace, was that he and his team were focused on product development and innovation while Myspace had become too concerned with revenue and meeting traffic targets of its Google deal.
“The technology fell behind and it just shows that even when you have a massive user base you still need to offer something new to keep people engaged,” said BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield.
A focus on innovation and product development produces the possibility of dominance. A focus on revenue produces vulnerability.
By the way, what’s your business focus?
By the way, take a look at the bottom of this blog post. With a click of your mouse, you can post this to your Facebook page. (Please do so!) Do you see the Myspace button? I didn’t think so…
The life span of success seems to be getting shorter and shorter. This week’s news is that MySpace is now basically folding Facebook into its pages. (MySpace has capitulated to Facebook’s advances, launching ‘Mashup With Facebook’).
So – how to be successful in this age? Remember this simple truth: someone’s gaining on you, so keep looking over your shoulder!
That’s the headline about Reed Hastings, Fortune’s Business Person of the Year: Reed Hastings: Leader of the pack: Executives from Silicon Valley to Hollywood to Wall Street admires his savvy persistence – and his company’s cool culture. The secret to the Netflix CEO’s success? He never stops looking over his shoulder.
The secret to the Netflix CEO’s success? He never stops looking over his shoulder.
“The turnover in the S&P 500 is terrifying,” (says Hastings). “Most of the time change in the world overtakes you.”
That restless, slightly paranoid attitude, combined with a Steve Jobs-like perfectionist streak, is what sets Hastings apart, says Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr.
So, how to stay successful? Consider these:
1. Keep getting better –all the time, over and over and over again.
2. Keep figuring out what is next. Call this creativity, and then innovation, but it means that you can never, never, never count on tomorrow’s success if you simply keep repeating that you have been doing in the same way.
3. Keep looking over your shoulder. The competition, some of which does not yet exit, is out to get you. Keep looking. “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle,” said Sun Tzu.
Congratulations to Mr. Hastings. (and, yes, I’m a subscriber).
It’s not about abortion. It’s about the next 20 years. Twenties and thirties, it was the role of government. Fifties and sixties, it was civil rights. The next two decades, it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cellphones. I’m talking about health records, and who’s gay and who’s not. And moreover, in a country born on a will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?
The West Wing — “The Short List”
Story By: Aaron Sorkin & Dee Dee Myers (script here).
I keep thinking about business decisions, and how much impact they have on others.
And I keep thinking about personal decisions, and how much impact they have on others.
And I keep thinking about when to make what public. But, it may not be up to the company, or the individual, to say… Not anymore.
Technology keeps moving forward. What we can do, we seem to do. And, so, if I can put a message on Facebook, everybody has a chance of seeing it. And, if someone else has a message about me, a photo of me, a video of me, and if I am famous enough, or important enough, or silly enough, there is a pretty good chance it will spread far and wide.
In the first season of The West Wing, there is a “shoo-in” supreme court appointee who is rejected by President Bartlet because of his understanding of privacy.
The episode first aired in November, 1999, pretty much before any of us had high-speed for the internet, long before Twitter and MySpace were born, quite a few years before Facebook became so omnipresent. The script was written by Dee Dee Myers, and Aaron Sorkin, who recently wrote the screen-play for the movie The Social Network, about Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg.
In the news this week, Facebook’s security was breached, and a whole lot of information about actual people went tumbling out for many to see.
It’s being claimed that some of the most popular applications on Facebook have been transmitting information identifying users.
The company said that it would introduce new technology to limit the security breach.
Facebook developer Mike Vernal blogged: ” We take user privacy seriously. We are dedicated to protecting private user data.”
(Read the story here).
I do realize that I can choose what to post in my Facebook page, and in/on my Tweets.
But in a world where people secretly (and publicly) take pictures, and videos, and put them up for the world to see, it seems that this discussion of privacy from the first season of The West Wing is eerily prescient, and a still unsettled issue of our day.
“What could be more fundamental than this?” asked Sam Seaborn. It’s a good question.
Facebook owns its market, maybe the whole world! But it wasn’t first – it was just simpler to use, (and very, very, very, very competitive).
Here’s the key quote:
Campus Network figured it out first. Facebook just executed it better.
Read about this here: The Other Social Network: It launched first. It had cooler features. Why did Columbia’s Campus Network lose out to Harvard’s Facebook? by Christopher Beam.
I just wrote about ways we might have to lower expectations regarding what to expect from a job in this difficult economic climate. But, there is an alternative. We could just all go to work for Facebook.
Last night, on ABC’s World News, Diane Sawyer interviewed/profiled Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook. Here is an excerpt of her piece (you can watch it here).
“People who work here can come at their own schedule, they can eat all their meals here, play an occasional Guitar Hero, they can even send out their laundry from work. All because the 26 year old founder wants no distractions from creativity. By the way, he lives within walking distance.
This is the key quote:
All because the 26 year old founder wants no distractions from creativity.
How well is it working? Just remember this – in a metaphorical blink of an eye, Facebook has left MySpace in the dust, and basically taken over the world. But here is the key business lesson:
no distractions from creativity!!!
Charlene Li’s new business best-seller, Open Leadership (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass), is all about social technologies. The major premise from her book is that leaders need to let go. They must take the risk to expose their organizations to customers, suppliers, vendors, and competitors, or they will be left behind in the rapidly evolving marketplace.
Be warned that this is not a guide to using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or any other tool. The focus of this book is on developing and creating systems that work for individuals and organizations.
I was particularly fascinated with the “sandbox covenants.” These are the rules, procedures, and disciplines that it takes to structure openness. If that sounds contradictory to you – “structuring openness” – realize that without walls to keep the sand in, you do not have a system, and you have chaos. Every executive, employee, vendor, or customer who interfaces with a social technology system offered by an organization must play by some rules, or the system collapses.
You may not be surprised that not everyone is cut out for this task. One of the interesting features of the book is a self-assessment to determine where an individual stands concerning the mind-set, traits, and behaviors that it takes to succeed with social technologies. The good news is that “where you are” is not necessarily “where you can be,” and practically every behavior and skill to succeed is trainable and learnable.
Li emphasizes patience with these systems. She is correct. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are any of these tools. The key is to make them work for you – not you working for them.
I really believe that this book deserves a careful read by anyone who holds an interest in greater returns from social technologies.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it!