A billion people logged into Facebook on a single Monday this past summer, prompting all sorts of hot, hot theories about where Facebook is headed. Now Mark Zuckerberg has given us some insights, and describes a future for Facebook that sounds... a lot like Google.
The Zuckerberg profile in this month’s Fast Company doesn’t do much to dispel his robotic public persona—including, as more than one person has mentioned, the extremely unflattering photo topping the article which renders him as pasty and rigid as a wax figure. A wax figure of Data.
But I think you might have to be a robot to do everything that Facebook is “focused” on doing right now. In fact, here is Zuckerberg’s to-do list: “build a world-class News Feed, and a world-class messaging product, and a world-class search product, and a world-class ad system, and invent virtual reality, and build drones.”
That sounds like an awful lot of things, but also an awful lot like what’s going on at Google. As if he heard an audience mumbling that, Zuckerberg goes on to make a deliberate jab at Google:
“There are different ways to do innovation,” he says, drawing a stark contrast without ever mentioning Page, Google, or Alphabet. “You can plant a lot of seeds, not be committed to any particular one of them, but just see what grows. And this really isn’t how we’ve approached this. We go mission-first, then focus on the pieces we need and go deep on them, and be committed to them.”
What’s he trying to say? That too many moonshots spoils the stew or something? That Facebook’s laser-focus on only six gigantic things, including “inventing virtual reality,” is better than an entire Alphabet of things? And then there’s the mission of Facebook which sounds, well, just like Google’s “next billion” mission:
Facebook’s mission is “to give everyone in the world the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” as Zuckerberg says, explaining that he is now spending a third of his time overseeing these future initiatives. “These things can’t fail. We need to get them to work in order to achieve the mission.”
How calculated might Zuckerberg be when it comes to beating Google? Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg offers this anecdote:
“Mark said, ‘I’m going to make a marshmallow,’ “ she tells me in her conference room, which is adorned with a framed drawing of her as Spider-Woman. “I looked at my friend and said, ‘He’s going to make the perfect marshmallow.’ Because he’s going to be the one out of all of us who is going to have the patience. In order to make the right marshmallow, you can’t do it right in the fire, because then it gets burnt. You can’t walk away. You actually have to sit there for five to 10 minutes with the marshmallow above the flame, but not too close, so that it gets completely heated but doesn’t burn. And the only person who’s actually willing to do that is Mark. Because he is that focused and that determined. I’ve never met anyone with more perseverance than Mark Zuckerberg.”
Yes, this is a story about TOASTING a MARSHMALLOW. Turning it over and over until he CRISPS the MARSHMALLOW. Perfectly BURNING that MARSHMALLOW. I mean, of all the things one could choose to talk about.