Happy birthday Facebook. Your next decade will be trickier

Happy birthday Facebook. Your next decade will be trickier

Summary: Facebook's next decade will be more interesting to watch as it moves toward those awkward adolescent years. Here's a look at the key challenges.

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Facebook is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the accomplishments are impressive. Facebook created the social networking boom, reached 1 billion users, scaled its infrastructure and revamped communications.

zuckerberg
What's next Mark?

And in the last year or so Facebook has navigated mobile, grown its advertising base at a rapid clip and collected more data on people than probably any other enterprise in the history of the world. These advances are showing up in Facebook's financial results.

Simply put, Facebook looks like a real company today with the potential to be a profit machine. That outcome wasn't a slam dunk when Facebook launched its initial public offering.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post:

While some doubted that connecting the world was actually important, we were building. While others doubted that this would be sustainable, you were forming lasting connections.

We just cared more about connecting the world than anyone else. And we still do today.

That's why I'm even more excited about the next ten years than the last. The first ten years were about bootstrapping this network. Now we have the resources to help people across the world solve even bigger and more important problems.

Zuckerberg has big plans for new ways of sharing and communicating. Facebook will build more tools---and then monetize them.

I'm not going to doubt Zuckerberg or Facebook, but I can't shake this AOL feeling. AOL was a juggernaut. AOL was the Internet for many people. AOL rewired communication with chat rooms. Like Facebook, AOL landed in divorce filings. Like Facebook, AOL was the center of a movie. AOL flamed out.

Facebook may not flame out, but its next 10 years are going to be more challenging. Caring enough probably won't cut it. Among the challenges:

  • Can Facebook keep its cool? Facebook is losing the younger demographic to some degree, but can navigate the changes well because it has emerging markets. In five years will Facebook be a must-have social network for teens when decidedly uncool parents are all over it? Like a TV network, Facebook will need to hit those younger demos.

  • Will monetization lead to customer angst? Facebook's biggest sign of maturity was revealed when the company launched tests of video advertising. That move featured a good compromise that didn't annoy customers. At some point though, Facebook is going to face slowing growth and push the ad envelope.

  • Can Facebook push the mobile envelope? Is there a role for Facebook embedded? How about Facebook powering a wearable? Today, Facebook has created one-off apps like Paper and Messenger that are powerful. Facebook needs to ultimately leap frog on mobile and push something new with its scale.

  • Privacy. Facebook knows everything about you. It's quite possible that a significant number of people will care at some point.

  • Can Facebook acquire its competition forever? Facebook bought Instagram, ConnectU and FriendFeed. Instagram may have been the biggest threat, but large players often buy smaller competitors for features or defense. At some point, a smaller player sneaks up on you. Today, Twitter could be that company. In 10 years, there will be some new competitor no one saw coming.

  • Can Facebook nail search? People search could be powerful and Facebook in theory could top Google's secret sauce. However, Facebook's search efforts are nascent. In the next 10 years, Facebook will have to hone and deliver on its search promise.

  • Will Facebook keep caring? Perhaps Facebook's biggest challenge will be keeping the DNA that got it this far. Companies grow, they become unwieldy, and become silo-ed. Even a company like Google starts to look like a big silo factory. The fact that Google's cloud business and enterprise unit aren't more closely tied together highlights the issue. 

Related stories:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Enterprise Software

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7 comments
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  • The enterprise takes pride in using technology...

    "The enterprise takes pride in using technology that's well known and stable. Windows 7 fits that description nicely. What would be the downside in using Windows 7 as the core of your PC refresh?"
    Is that sentence supposed to be part of this article?
    WebSiteManager
    • I'm guessing it was left over from the template he uses

      unless he meant "Facebook fits that description nicely. What would be the downside in using Facebook as the core of your PC refresh?"

      :)
      William.Farrel
  • Facebook A Fading Fad.

    Facebook is a fading fad that will end up like Myspace and AOL. Google+ is so much better along with all of the other Google products and services. Google stock will continue to achieve new highs.
    rm6565
    • I have the same concern ....

      Facebook's success is based on a good idea, which is the platform for communication. But its future success should be based on the core technologies that facebook has and others cannot surpass. Does facebook has this technology or it only use the existing technology that others can also use?
      SmilingGuy
  • Facebook R.I.P.

    It's already over for Facebook and Twitter and the rest of the wannabes. I predict that these social media will all be dead within 2 years. In the case of Facebook, people are vanishing more rapidly than accumulating. And there's a good reason for this. Nobody wants to know what you're doing right now, whether it's having oatmeal breakfast or masturbating. We don't care! If you have some original thought to share, then maybe that's different, but if all you have is "I'm walking to school now", who cares? Get a grip, people. I do not care what colour your shorts are, or what you had for breakfast. On the other hand, I do care if you've discovered a new black hole, or a problem in the theory of black holes. Otherwise, please spare the world of your minutiae. We don't care!

    Arthur
    fuller.artful@...
    • Only 2

      of many reports that give the lie of your statement

      http://news.yahoo.com/number-active-users-facebook-over-230449748.html

      Also
      http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57566550-93/facebook-by-the-numbers-1.06-billion-monthly-active-users/

      Where do some of you guys come up with these statements that don't even have the vaguest ring of truth to them....end rant.
      Tonydid
  • I Don't know

    I don't know what will happen to Facebook. Facebook is huge right now, and that surprises me because it does not really do anything important in my life. I never would have predicted it would have become this big.

    Now, every year there is something new that chips away at facebook. Again, all equally useless companies providing nothing of importance. I teach high school and my students are the only ones who use this kind of stuff, and they are using facebook less and less. Facebook has already lost it's cool factor where teens are concerned.

    Who knows what will happen, but if facebook wants to dominate it needs to use it's cash to buy the competition, companies like: snapchat, tumbler, twitter, etc.

    I don't use any of those services, so I don't understand why all the fuss. Personally, I think the world would be a better place without social media.
    tomkel