And the Zuckerberg-Bashing Begins…
As inevitable as air, Silicon Valley likes to build them up and then tear them down.
Thus, the bell now tolls for Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg.
We at BoomTown have been consistent and persistent in voicing our various worries about the young entrepreneur, from one of our very first posts, questioning (we think fairly) the unproven business underpinnings of the hot social network, the juvenile nature of its much vaunted third-party widgets, the insanity of its $15 billion valuation, its inane legal fights and the problems with its worrisome ad efforts.
We’ve also taken (we think probably unfairly) shots at those flip-flops he wears. And we did call him a toddler CEO, also a low blow, we have to admit.
But now, it seems, a mob is forming, sparked by the issues around Facebook’s controversial Beacon ad program, which can track your purchases on some external sites and send the information back to your Facebook profile’s news feed.
While it made some changes in Beacon last week, Facebook has not given users a global opt-out of the controversial marketing system in which the social network is seeking to link behavior and advertising more tightly for supposedly bigger payoffs.
The mainstream media and blogosphere, which recently were feting him, have now turned and ire has been growing over Beacon, which seems to be focusing everyone on the inexperience of Zuckerberg and the challenges facing Facebook.
That was clear in a very cogent piece by Josh Quittner on his Techland blog for Fortune today, which was titled “RIP Facebook?”
A lot of people say that Facebook has jumped the shark. That’s flat out wrong. In fact, Facebook is now being devoured by the shark. There’s so much blood in the water, it’s attracting other sharks. And if Facebook’s not careful, one of them is bound to come along and finish it off. I’ve never seen anything like it in the annals of fast-rising tech companies that fail.”
As Zuckerberg might say: That bites.
As Quittner writes correctly, right now it is the press that has turned on Zuckerberg, which is sure to be followed by much more important advertisers, who shy away from controversy.
We’ll see how it plays out, but it is surely a flash point moment for Facebook.
Or in the immortal words of actress Joan Crawford: “Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.”
Feel the love, Mark.