First off, my congratulations. The company–and team–you have created are very likely to be remembered as the most important–and successful–new company of this decade.
You have taken Facebook from fraternity row at a few elite campuses to everywhere. Facebook has more users than America has citizens. Being on Facebook today is more important than being in the Yellow Pages was a generation ago.
You have ignored courtships and advice to be acquired. You have gone it essentially alone and you have succeeded wildly.
Mark, I think you would be wise if at this point, you took a few of the billions you are entitled to and went home, or maybe kicked yourself upstairs to become Facebook chairman and chief visionary officer or one of those titles.
I say this not just for the good of your own reputation, but for the good of your advertisers and assorted business associates. It is for the good of your investors, your employees and certainly for the group you seem to overlook when formulating business strategies: your users.
Perhaps, you think that because we users don’t pay for your Facebook service, then our wishes and our rights, such as choices over our own privacy settings can be disdained or even abused.
That is not the case, as Google and Twitter, two other free services will tell you, the best way to build an ENDURING franchise is to do right by your customers above all else.
Mark, I emphasize “enduring” because Facebook has not yet reached that status. As big and successful as it has become, there is still a danger that tens of millions of your customers will wake up one morning to discover something newer and shinier and more fun.
Because Facebook has treated us so badly, there is still the possibility that we can just turn and walk away. Tech history is filled with former champions such as IBM and Microsoft who were pretty damned sure their customers would find it too difficult to abandon them, only to wake up one morning to find themselves abandoned by millions of formerly “owned” customers.
Mark, I have seen you speak a few times and candidly, I have hoped that as your company has grown so would you as it’s leading representative. Being interviewed at D8, on the same dais as top leaguers like Steve Jobs is a huge opportunity for you to state your company’s case on issues that seem to disturb most people interacting with Facebook.
Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg are topnotch interviewers, but they were also your hosts. They asked tough questions in a nice way. You had to know those questions were coming. On your level, you should have smart people in the back room asking you those same questions.
Mark, watch the above video. You swung and missed at every important question. Often, you just answered different question than the ones being asked, and Mark you did yourself and your company no good. I would say you did yourself some damage.
Mark, the tech industry has a long history of young entrepreneurs who were challenged to grow as fast as the companies they had created. Some succeeded and are still at the helms of their corporate ships. Others did not and wisely stepped down to allow firmer hands to guide the ship.
It is time for you to do exactly that, Mark. You will be remembered as a brilliant founder. You will have planted seeds to a mighty tree that will live on.
Think about it.