What The Hell Is Going On At Facebook?

I’ve been watching the coverage over the past couple days of the Gideon Yu departure and today’s follow-up memo from Mark Zuckerberg which was leaked to Kara Swisher. Yesterday I had begun writing an article about how all of the negative press around Facebook presented a great opportunity. It was one of those posts where I wrote with emotion before thinking everything through.

Occasionally I find it useful just to get everything written down and then many times I don’t even publish the story. The more traction this blog has received, the more reserved I have become in pressing the “publish” button to avoid posting inaccurate information (which has happened on a number of occasions). This post isn’t about my thought process in blogging though.

It’s about the feeling I get every time substantially negative press comes out about Facebook because let’s be honest, my primary blog (this site) is dependent on the success of Facebook. Personally, I don’t hear as much buzz from the inside as I do from developers but when I begin to hear chatter and I see articles being published related to that chatter, I use rational logic to determine the likelihood that those articles are accurate.

There has been a wave of negative press over the past month. Facebook has been able to keep the majority of the infighting under wraps due to an extremely efficient communications department which according to the latest chatter is around 40 people (some of which are at Outcast, others of which are internal). That’s a substantial force for a company with less than 900 people (according to Kara Swisher, they have around 800 employees).

The Rushed Rollout of the New Design

For a company that is extremely meticulous in its attention to detail, the recent redesign of Facebook had a sense of urgency with it. There are countless design flaws, a few of which were addressed within days of the “user uprising”. For a company which took 6 months to roll-out the previous version of their design while going through continuous iterations based on user feedback and user testing, this new design came out in a matter of weeks.

The reason is clear: Twitter has become a serious threat in Facebook’s drive to monitor the majority of sharing online. I’ve written about it countless times. So many that a large portion of my readers are tired of hearing about it based on the comments I received today on our public profile page. Regardless of the “threat” that Twitter brings, the past couple months have had this sense of urgency which could be related to a number of things.

First, there is speculation that the company is looking to raise more money (despite being cash flow positive at some point next year). Second, the company has internal tension between those that believe the focus should be on growth and those that believe the company should be focused on monetization.

There Is A Huge Opportunity

Regardless of all the negative press over the past month and all the people asking about how the company is going to make money (they already are nearing half a billion dollars a year), Facebook has a gigantic opportunity in front of them. When I read that Mark Zuckerberg is trying to hunt leakers, even if it is in Valleywag, it becomes frustrating. Seeing significant internal fighting in a company that has so much potential is excruciatingly painful.

Part of me doesn’t want to believe the rumors but with so much buzz it becomes hard to ignore. Facebook can come roaring out of the fog, with an updated API (as they are expected to release) and the continued support of millions of new users a week. Whatever excessive executive infighting is taking place must be handled swiftly though so the company can move forward.

Facebook is positioned to break through to the next level but a strong team in necessary to conquer what’s ahead.

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