Friday, May 16, 2008

Where Does Facebook Go From Here?

I was lucky enough to have been in college when Facebook first launched. Luckier still, I was at one of the first few universities Facebook opened up to, Columbia.

I watched as the site evolved from a place to either:

A) Hook-up
B) Find out who else was in your anthro class

to a world class social utility that has not only helped redefine social networking, but also the web as a whole. It's one of the most well designed products I've ever seen...the company seemed so focused on solving real problems for real people. And that's certainly what propelled them from niche social network to one of the largest web sites in the world.

But where do they go from here?

What's the goal of the company now?

They've certainly changed the way we use the web, but have they changed the way we live our lives? Once upon a time I would've made the argument that, "Yes they have!". But I don't find that to be the case anymore.

When I was using it as an on-campus utility to engage classmates, attend a random meet-up over at Lerner Hall, or to find out where the next party was, I thought, "Wow, now this is a useful tool for my day-to-day life." But not so much anymore.

Now I get friend requests from people I've never met, I get updates when my friends comment on photos of people I don't know. I hear about parties I would never care to go to all because I added a stupid app to my account.

I feel like Facebook is becoming Starbucks. Too big for its own good. A man without a country. A cause that lost its way somewhere.

I know Umair isn't very fond of Facebook and makes a number of compelling arguments with respect to strategy and competition. But I think the reasons for Facebook's uninspiring performance as of late could be put much more simply - they've lost their reason for being.

And that begs the question, how does ANY company, once they get to be a certain size, maintain the core values, mission and vision they originally started with?

Is it a fallacy to even think that this is possible?

Which BIG, ultra-successful companies have stayed true to their users and to their original mission and values without being corrupted by their scale and size?



I don't know the answer, but I'd love to hear some opinions.

On another note - and probably a separate blog post - which companies ARE changing how we live our lives?


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