In his Techland blog, Josh Quittner writes eloquently about Facebook’s increasingly dire troubles. Still, I take issue with his core assertion:
"What’s harming Facebook — perhaps to a terminal degree — is enormously bad PR."
It would be insane and irredeemably wrong to argue that Facebook isn’t suffering from terrible public relations. Without a doubt, and certainly with no argument from this quarter, injurious PR is a major problem for the company. The bad PR, however, is a symptom of a bigger disease at Facebook, a fatal malady that derives from defects in its core DNA.
Facebook was congenitally doomed to failure. It’s CEO and much of its callow executive team lacked humility and perspective, though they had no shortage of arrogance and hubris. Vaulting ambition gets a company off the ground, hubris brings its crashing back to earth; there’s a thin line separating the two, but young entrepreneurs, intoxicated with heady success, often fail to draw the distinction.
We not only learn from our failures, we also gain humility from them. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, hasn’t had many setbacks in his ascent to the Web 2.0 firmament. He’s about to be suffer a big one, though. The question now is whether he will still be the CEO of Facebook when he gets the opportunity to learn from his mistakes and develop the wisdom that comes from experience.