I’ve been trying to understand our failed Media’s analysis of Mark Faceberg’s TL;DR manifesto on the future of Facebook. I finally gave up and read his FB post myself.
The Media keeps focusing on the merging of the assorted texting apps in WhatsApp/Instagram/FBMessenger, but they uniformly didn’t understand or even read the second paragraph where he really gives away the game (emphasis mine):
“Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication. There are a number of reasons for this. Many people prefer the intimacy of communicating one-on-one or with just a few friends. People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they’ve shared. And we all expect to be able to do things like payments privately and securely.”
So it is not just about messaging your buddies to let them know to meet at Squi’s for ‘skis after school. He’s aiming to transition whatever he calls this thing to be the center of commerce.
“If there’s an analog to what Facebook is trying to build, it exists in the form of Tencent’s WeChat, the single largest social network in China. There are a number of key differences between the two products, but the ultimate goals look markedly similar: singular, all-purpose networks that can be leveraged to serve users all kinds of other services, from mobile payments to gaming to direct lines of contact to businesses.”
This has long been the Holy Grail of Silicon Valley: logon in the morning and stay on all day, you will live in one portal and not leave it to go anywhere else to do anything else. This will be the place where you can chat with your Gram, buy tickets for the show, make reservations for dinner without signing out. Sure, the privacy will be there for messages, but not for everything else.
“When Mark Zuckerberg Said Privacy, He Didn’t Mean Privacy From Facebook, The CEO’s privacy manifesto is a road map for getting the company’s services more embedded in our daily lives so it can gather data in new and creative ways.” — WSJ’s Christopher Mims
Back to The Verge:
“WeChat is often considered the “everything app” for China’s nearly 800 million smartphone owners: it’s a game console, a bank, and even a gateway to Chinese ride-sharing giants, food delivery, and thrift shopping. It’s available in other regions as well, giving WeChat a monthly active user base of over 1 billion… By continuously adding services, WeChat only becomes a more integral part of daily life, and it’s harder to abandon as a result. “It’s convenient for everything: payments, getting info, ordering things,” he adds. As Shih notes, even the homeless in China use WeChat-supported QR codes to accept mobile payments when panhandling.
Faceberg wants it to be the Do Everything app.
Faceberg doesn’t have to build his own Amazon if FB (or whatever they will call this thing) can be the center of internet and the way that increasingly everyone reaches Amazon. It’s a pretty bold, and frightening vision.
And here’s the thing: Faceberg is not an ideas guy. Everything they have is an idea they stole from someone else or bought, but they usually improve upon the original. So stealing this vision is something he could actually achieve. Sure, he’s starting with chat apps, but it won’t end there.
“But building that kind of sprawling, do-everything network is an immense challenge, and even WeChat has not done without a good deal of help and good luck. In China, it’s received government subsidies, and many of its rivals have been blocked from running: that includes Messenger since 2009, South Korea’s Line since 2015, and WhatsApp in 2017, significantly trimming down the competitive landscape. The government has been happy to do that in exchange for being able to retrieve deleted WeChat messages to help in police investigations. (Tencent denies that it stores chat histories.)”
So China gave WeChat essentially a monopoly position, and do you think for a moment that a Republican Government here won’t do the same thing for Faceberg? Give them a cut, Mark, you’ll be amazed what they let you do when you’re a celebrity.
Senator-Professor Warren is calling for the break-up of big tech companies. These things are not unrelated.