With Google+ quickly gaining a strong user base, the question keeps popping up: Is Facebook invincible?
It wasn’t long ago that MySpace was the end all, be all in the world of social networking. Just a few years later, the once up-start Facebook, dominates. The grip Facebook has on our world is tight; with over 600 million users, 2.5 million Facebook integrated sites, and 30 billion pieces of content moving across the network, Facebook is buried deeper into everything we do online than any social network in history.
The question is, is that grip strong enough to overcome new challengers, privacy concerns, and a future that will eventually include going public, more talent wars, and a constant battle to avoid becoming stale like many networks before it?
Threat 1, Losing Control: Facebook will have to go public eventually and that presents an opportunity for some instability in the organization. Never before has a young CEO like Zuckerberg kept control this long and this successfully. Becoming a publicly traded company may change the power structure depending on investors demands the nature of the sale. Keeping the top of a Facebook hierarchy that has steered the company to its crazy success in place, may prove an impossible task over time.
Threat 2, Losing Talent: There is a talent crunch in Silicon Valley and the talent wars with companies like Google are only making a shrinking pool of engineers that much more valuable, and expensive. If Facebook can’t remain one of the ‘cool’ places to work, they risk losing out on the young talent that will drive valley companies in the near future.
Threat 3, Competitors and the Open Movement: There is a lot of buzz about potential competitors to Facebook that may rise up very soon. Google now has Google +1, and you know they have all the talent and cash in the world to throw at it. Other competitors that have momentum because of the stark contrast of their open model to Facebook’s closed system are Diaspora and OneSocialWeb. Both are fairly small start-ups, but growing unrest over ownership and privacy issues are priming people for an open solution that puts them in control.
To think that one day Facebook might not be as powerful or as inescapable as it is today, almost seems strange. I can imagine a world where Facebook’s power only grows; more integrated sites, more services requiring a Facebook login, and more apps designed for the Facebook API. To be fair though, I never saw Facebook overthrowing my once beloved MySpace. How wrong I was. Organizational instability, key talent losses, and a new, ‘cooler’, network all came along to overthrow Tom for Mark and the same could happen to Facebook. Sometimes we forget that Facebook is a business and it has to deal with the same issues every other business does.
So will a new kid on the block overthrow the Facebook kingdom, or will King Zuckerberg tighten his grip? Can Google steal enough talent and overcome a failed Buzz experiment to become the go-to social network? Or will an open start-up solution take the world by storm like Facebook once did before it?
What do you think? Will you be Facebooking in 2 years? 5? If not, where do you think you’ll be?