Facebook's IPO: Is Zuckerberg-Page the new Jobs-Gates?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Larry Page will have their duels throughout the years. Those duels are likely to pick up once Facebook raises truckloads of cash.

It has become increasingly clear that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had a bit of a complicated relationship. The two tech luminaries were fierce competitors, cooperated from time to time and had a healthy respect for each other over time (jabs aside of course).

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

Jobs and Gates were like two boxers. The difference was that they traded jabs in computing. One was elegant liberal arts type and the other was an engineering wonk. When Jobs passed away late last year one of the questions instantly revolved around his replacement. Who would be the next Jobs? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos came up frequently as tech's new leader. There's an argument to be made there, but the Bezos case misses a key ingredient---competition from a foil.

Gates and Jobs fed off each other in many ways as they dueled through the decades. The relationship was complicated. That back and forth between two tech titans may be missed but not for long.

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Google CEO Larry Page.

Google CEO Larry Page.

Why? Facebook's initial public offering proceedings will kick off soon. And with that IPO will come vast riches, capital and the heft for Facebook to compete with Google. That reality will mean that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Larry Page will have their duels throughout the years. The two execs are already dueling.

  • Facebook takes time and eyeballs away from Google.
  • Google launches Google+.
  • Google then integrates Google+ with its search.
  • Facebook is teamed with Bing.
  • Both companies have mobile ambitions.
  • Google is search. Facebook is social graphs.
  • Does anyone doubt that Google and Facebook will be in court at some point?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Although the Facebook-Google competition isn't as clear cut as Apple and Microsoft---two companies jousting in the PC market---rest assured that the battles are just beginning.

Dan Farber on CBS News noted:

Facebook isn't going to invest in out-gunning Google in search. It will leave that daunting task to its partner Microsoft Bing for now, but over time Facebook's social search sprinkled with the standard web results could become robust enough keep users away from Google for many kinds of searches.

That passage nails it. Google and Facebook are competing for your time and ultimately a better ad mousetrap. In this new world order, Page is more like Gates. He has a dominant position, enters multiple markets and may spread Google too thin. Facebook's Zuckerberg is focused, evangelistic about sharing and a bit of a tech messiah to some. Zuckerberg may be Jobsian over time.

In any case, Facebook's IPO sets the stage for a good old tech CEO duel. Zuckerberg-Page are destined to be the next Jobs vs. Gates.