Facebook has been labelled “the new Yahoo”, but is it really fair to accuse the tech firm of a lack of vision?
Yahoo was once one of the world’s leading tech companies, but since then it is safe to say that the company has not been known for its innovative approach. When Marissa Meyer was hired as the new CEO in 2012 it was widely believed it would be her mission to get the company out of the funk it had been stuck in for years. One of the biggest fears was that its status as a major player in the tech world had stifled its emphasis on creativity.
It’s fair to say this is not an example many business leaders would like to follow, but concerns have been raised that Mark Zuckerberg has fallen into the trap that once ensnared Yahoo. Writing for Business Insider, Nicholas Carlson claims that Facebook has turned into “the new Yahoo”.
The argument boils down to events this winter in which a “beautiful” redesign of the site was suddenly paused. Though it worked well and looked great for users on new and high-resolution screen devices, it was difficult to use on the older devices still being used by great swathes of Facebook’s existing users.
According to Mr Carlson, Facebook is falling into a similar trap to the one that Yahoo exemplified a few years ago: it cannot try anything radical or innovative for fear of putting off the large number of mainstream users it already has. This leaves it an easy target for competition from smaller firms that can eat into its market share. Facebook was one of the companies that did exactly that to Yahoo; now, it could find itself on the receiving end.
Yahoo famously passed up the opportunity to acquire Facebook on the grounds that the price was too high, which could have been a nail in its coffin. But with expensive acquisitions like WhatsApp and Oculus, it seems Mark Zuckerberg is determined not to miss out on new firms that can innovate in ways a monolith like Facebook cannot.
But it’s also interesting to note that this is not a new assessment of the social media giant’s position. As far back as 2011, Mike Elgan said the same thing – long before the new redesign that was meant to represent innovation this winter. Facebook might just be more resilient than it seems.
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