Photo: The White House
Maybe there’s a good reason Facebook hasn’t released a major “wow” product recently.The company could be growing up.
Back in 2009, Facebook made some pretty big changes to the look and feel of the site, and a lot of users complained.
But Zuckerberg wasn’t about to change course. In an internal email, Zuckerberg reportedly said something along the lines of “the most disruptive companies don’t listen to their customers” and that companies who spend too much time listening to customers are “stupid.”
Things have changed since then:
- Explosive growth. Since Zuck took his stand, Facebook has increased its number of users 5x — from 150 million to 750 million. By any measure, it’s one of the biggest and most popular sites on the Web, with 1 trillion page views and more than 800 million monthly unique users every month (according to Google’s DoubleClick ad buying analytics).
- Mainstream success. Zuckerberg was already a minor celebrity in 2009, but now he’s had a hit feature movie made about his life and company and has hobnobbed with the president of the United States.
- A serious challenger. Google+ hasn’t been all that impressive so far, but Google is in the game for the long haul and it’s just getting started. This is no MySpace: Google generates more than $2 billion of free cash flow every QUARTER — and has 10 times as many employees and the kind of sophisticated back-end that lets it do things like real-time video chat with up to 10 people.
In other words, Facebook is no longer the challenger — it’s the incumbent.
That means there’s a strong temptation to play defence rather than making big, sweeping changes that could drive customers away.
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