Steve Case: Facebook Needs to Pivot and Recognize They’re Not in the Garage Anymore

Nov 16

AOL co-founder Steve Case says that Facebook needs to pivot and recognize that they are not in the garage anymore. Case sees some of this as a backlash against big tech, which he predicted a few years ago in his book The Third Wave. As companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon become more important it is critical for them to engage more at the policy level.

Steve Case, CEO of Revolution and AOL co-founder, talked about Facebook’s response to the explosive New York Times article on CNBC:

People Are Looking for the Actions to Follow the Intent

The New York Times report was obviously very troubling. It’s a great company and I know Mark and Sheryl have done a fabulous job of building not only one of the most valuable companies in the world but also one of the most impactful companies the world. It has had a significant impact not just on business but on society, even in terms of politics. They have to understand that they do shoulder a great responsibility and hopefully they will make the moves necessary. They have the right intent, they’ve been clear about the intent. I think a lot of people are looking for the actions now to follow the intent and hopefully, in the coming weeks and months, we’ll see more of that.

Expected This Backlash Against Big Tech

Some of this backlash against big tech, backlash against Silicon Valley, I frankly expected that for several years. I wrote a book a couple years ago that’s called The Third Wave and talked about it. As these companies become more and more important and have more and more impact, engaging more on the policy level is going to be critical.

In the next wave of innovation, the policy issues, the regulatory issues, whether it be on the platform side of the internet or in healthcare or other other sectors of our economy, the entrepreneurs, the innovators need to engage with the policy makers and the regulators. Entrepreneurs don’t like to do that because they just like to have the freedom of action to move quickly, and that’s understandable. But the nature of the kind of issues we’re now dealing with, the opportunities we’re trying to deal with does require more of that engagement. Facebook is seeing that and Google’s seeing that and other companies will see that as well.

That’s going to do really define the winners in this next 10 or 20 years, the ones that are innovating and moving quickly but doing it in a way that is understanding they’re living in a broader context and are more respectful of the role of policy.

Facebook Needs to Pivot and Recognize They’re Not in the Garage Anymore

Facebook’s a great company, Google is a great company, Amazon’s a great company, they’re a lot of great companies out there. They’re going to still be a magnet for talent but it does become more difficult as you get larger. It does become more difficult when your company is attacked.

A few years ago everybody felt proud to be associated with Facebook and now some at the company, so the reports suggest, are a little more anxious. We’ve seen that in other large companies as well. Some of that this comes with the scale of going from a startup to a speed up to one of the most important companies in the world.

This is one of the reasons, but not the only reason, that they need to pivot and recognize they’re not in the garage anymore, it’s not a startup anymore. They have significant civic responsibilities and if they implement those appropriately they’ll be able to attract and keep people and attract and keep customers and that’s a key part of what they need to focus on.

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