Things didn’t go well for Mark Zuckerberg when he appeared on the D8 stage two days ago. From all angles, he appeared to be fumbling his way through the answers he was giving. He broke out into a cold sweat and had to remove his trademark hoodie. Bloggers around the globe took stabs at Zuck and his team based on his performance. Today, I have seen several posts where people are beginning to wonder whether or not Zuckerberg should continue in his current role with the company he founded as a college student. Likely the most prolific comes from Shel Israel.
Shel unabashedly tells Zuck that it’s time he steps down from his cushy CEO position. The letter to Mark points out the areas in which he is sorely lacking and gives factual statements in support of the claims made. It is written simply – yet powerfully. In closing, Israel tells Zuckerberg: “the tech industry has a long history of young entrepreneurs who were challenged to grow as fast as the companies they had created. Some succeeded and are still at the helms of their corporate ships. Others did not and wisely stepped down to allow firmer hands to guide the ship. It is time for you to do exactly that, Mark. You will be remembered as a brilliant founder. You will have planted seeds to a mighty tree that will live on.”
My first reaction when I began reading was one of shock: who is Shel to tell Mark how to run his company? Who are any of us to give that piece of advice, for that matter? As I continued to read, I found myself nodding in agreement much of the time. Facebook has grown by leaps and bounds. No one can deny that. But has Mark Zuckerberg grown with it? Each of the points made in the open letter are dead on target. Facebook may have billions of users, but how many of those billions aren’t very happy with the way things are going?
For any company to continue to grow and thrive, the people at the top must adapt and change with it. A CEO may start off with a set of ideals and visions. Those tend to change as time goes by and the company is forced to do things differently in order to keep up with the ever-changing demands and needs of their customers and users. We’ve seen big changes and shake-ups within some pretty major companies over the years. Much of the time, they were done in order to help keep driving the companies forward.
Even if Mark chooses to remain in his current role, it would be a great idea if he were to include more people in his inner circle. Bring in some fresh blood, Zuck. Don’t only surround yourself with people who feel the same way you do about the issues you face. You need a team who will think outside the proverbial box, one who will help bridge the huge gap you have created between you and your users. You need people at the top who are going to ensure that Facebook remains the powerful force you have guided it to be by helping it to change to meet the demands of your userbase.