Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Facebook Mistake - the Marketplace

What is Facebook management thinking? Is Zuckerberg off his rocker? Today, I received an email update from Facebook alerting me to my "friends' marketplace for Darien, CT". Being a curious soul, I clicked on it and saw ugly paintings of naked women, real estate for sale in Florida and other things I really didn't care about or want to waste time looking at. These items were being sold by "friends of my friends." It made me wonder about my friends' friends.

Even worse, the whole thing really turned me off. It left a sour taste in my mouth. What is Facebook trying to do, besides make money? This is not as clean or elegant as Craigslist or Ebay. I don't want these things. I'm not looking for them. This feels like an invasion of privacy and cheesy waste of time. If I'm in the market for such items, sold by friends or not, I will search for them. Facebook keeps messing around with its model. This needs to stop.

Companies that are successful are successful because they are coming from a vision of what they believe in. They have to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Companies that just set out to make money for money's sake are doomed to fail. That's what caused the financial meltdown and also the dot-com bust. Investment banks are supposed to help the flow of capital from people who have it to growing companies that need it. But instead, they're focusing on making money by selling new securities that they've made up out of thin air or junk. We've all seen the unfortunate result.

Facebook started out as a great, simple idea, filling a real need for people to connect with one another. But its mission to make money has taken place without soul or vision. I watched a great video yesterday on TED about what makes people into real, successful leaders. It's worth watching. Mark Zuckerberg needs to watch it, too. Then, maybe he'll do the right things with Facebook.

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