For Billionaires, Business Decisions Should Be No ‘Joke’

How would you classify Facebook?

I would classify it as having origins as a pseudo-stalking application that became a great collective time-suck that has designs on becoming a dominate source of connection and conversation. While I will attest to hating to have to be on Facebook (and having to be on it so much during my day), I love the idea of what it is, and accept my fate as a Facebook user as a person who works in the ‘talking to people all day’ industry.

But I do not like Mark Zuckerberg’s inability to convey a message to multiple communities.

The headline from an article published today at Business Insider reads “Mark Zuckerberg Says That Facebook’s Failed Snapchat Competitor Poke Was ‘More Of A Joke.’” But the implication just isn’t funny to me. Or multiple me’s.

News reporter me would have rather heard, “Poke was an app that we didn’t put a lot of resources behind as we waited to see how competitive it really was.”

Tech follower me would have rather heard, “Poke was not a quick clone of a competitor, but it was a project quickly put together that we couldn’t justify sustaining.”

Business investor me would have rather heard, “Poke was not a viable product as it was originally produced and would not become viable by tweaking the original product.”

What I heard from all versions of the story that I read today was Zuckerberg saying, “There is this thing called Snapchat. We had nothing like it, and we were a little worried. So some guys hacked together a Shapchat-like-thing over a few days to see if it could be done. It could, so we threw it out there to see if anyone would jump at a Facebook-branded-Shapchat-like-thing so we could gauge if we should actually build a Facebook-branded-Shapchat-like-thing with some serious intent.”

I know that some of the best selling and easiest spread commentary follows a simple hate the player and the game. And I often fall into that trap with my commentary. But this interview to me is just another example of a person winning the cosmic lottery and thinking they have no need to every change. I get that he’s a billionaire and not even 30. Most sub-30-year-olds have the privilege of spouting one-offs without care, and no one pays them any mind. I even had that right as a sub-30-year-old talk radio producer.

I didn’t have that right as a sub-30-year-old Air Force Captain. Lay people assumed my words and actions had some meaning, or I wouldn’t have been given the authority I possessed.

Mark Zuckerberg wants to be the hoodie-wearing fun guy for as long as he wants. He can do whatever he likes. But being the hoodie-wearing fun guy is not why he had to pay a $2 billion tax bill for 2013. Its the whole ‘running a business that aims at becoming a dominate source of connection and conversation-thing. If I sound like I’m hating the player, well, maybe I am. If I were a billionaire (and I am far from it), I would have billions of reasons not to care as well.

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