However, ten years ago Facebook became public, and since then its strategy has not been related to innovation, but to rapid growth in both the user base and the advertising business. His major technology project has become large-scale – he has built his infrastructure to serve everyone on earth, and could use that infrastructure to stay on top. If new exciting features appeared online, you could count on Facebook to bring them to the widest audience, even if it didn’t invent these features itself.
For many years the strategy of the photostat worked perfectly. There was nothing shameful about that; the best ideas in technology – or, for that matter, in life – are often tabs of many different ideas. As Steve Jobs said, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal. ” The art of Facebook was in its perfection more than in its originality.
Consider Instagram. When Facebook paid $ 1 billion for a photo-sharing program in 2012, Instagram had only 13 employees, about 30 million users and no revenue. Facebook has showered the company’s resources, allowing its founders, Kevin Sistrom and Mike Krieger, to gain ample opportunity to run the company. Growth jumped. Today, more than a billion people use Instagram every month, and in 2018 it could be worth more than $ 100 billion. The founders of Instagram left the company in 2018 – reportedly after escalating tensions with Zuckerberg – but they argued that the acquisition was ultimately good for users.
The Federal Trade Commission approved the purchase of Facebook Instagram and WhatsApp, but in 2020 the agency filed a lawsuit against Facebook, saying both deals are part of a “systematic strategy” to maintain a monopoly. Last month, a judge ruled that a modified version of the lawsuit could be advanced. There is virtually no chance that regulators will allow Facebook to acquire another potential rival in the near future. This leaves Facebook with another tactic it has honed over the years – borrowing other people’s ideas.
Take another look at Instagram. When the program was launched, it was a simple tape of photos. Over the years, Facebook has loaded it with a host of features picked up elsewhere. Instagram now broadcasts live broadcasts, a feature first introduced by startups like Twitch and Periscope. One of Instagram’s most popular features is Stories, a kind of user’s day diary. The Stories format was invented by Snapchat, whose success in the early 2010s looked as if it posed a threat to Facebook’s dominance. Zuckerberg tried to acquire the company – now it is called Snap. Boneless. He also tried several ways to clone its features. In 2017, he finally made great strides; after posting Stories at the top of the Instagram app, Facebook blew Snap out of the water. Within a year of cloning the best Snapchat Stories feature Instagram was bigger than Snapchat. As if to rub this, Facebook has also added the Stories feature to the Facebook and WhatsApp apps.
Now Facebook is trying to do something similar with Reels, its clone of TikTok. Reels debuted on Instagram in 2020, and in 2021 Reels began spreading on Facebook. Speaking to investors last week, Zuckerberg said Reels was doing well. But he did not go into detail, and mentioned so much about the competition represented by TikTok that it can be suspected that he is not entirely happy with how well his clone competes.
I’m not surprised. I use Instagram a lot, but I find it getting dirtier. It’s a canine breakfast with many different social elements that are uncomfortable to sit together – a place for permanent photos, for ephemeral stories, for short videos of influential people and even for shopping. The Facebook app, meanwhile, feels like a lost cause of bloating; like a restaurant that serves too many different cuisines, the app tries to do so much that it ends up doing almost nothing good.