Over the course of one year, the stock price of Facebook, or Meta by its new name is tanking. There is a solution to this problem. That is if Mark Zuckerberg can see it and will take this exit ramp. Let’s take a closer look at the cause of this problem and the solution to turn things around.
Once upon a time, a college student named Mark Zuckerberg created a new way to keep other college students in touch, online. This became Facebook and the fantastic journey began. They created advertising income, then went public and things were humming along for years.
Then, last year visionary Zuckerberg took a new path and changed Facebook to Meta. Since then, the stock price has been dropping, significantly. Now, not only is the company in trouble, but rumor has also it that Zuckerberg himself is in the crosshairs of the Board of Directors.
The problem Facebook now faces with Meta can be solved
We must realize this is a common problem with successful companies. The idea was given birth by a visionary. However, while visionaries can create, they often cannot run, build and grow a company. That’s an entirely different skill set.
That’s where Sheryl Sandberg came into the Facebook picture, worked with Zuckerberg and built the company.
Now that she is no longer there and Zuckerberg is running the company on his own, things have been getting shaky and their stock price has dropped, significantly.
The good news is there is a solution to this predicament.
Three problems Meta faces today
Remember, this is not the first time Facebook flopped with a new idea. Remember the Facebook Phone from a decade ago? But that did not tank the stock.
That was just a marketing mistake they quickly recovered from. Facebook took a risk, failed, admitted the mistake, backed away and continued to grow. Problem solved.
So, what’s the problem this time around? There are three real problems today. One, the new direction of Meta, two is the weak economy impacting lots of different companies, and Sheryl Sandberg is no longer there to balance Zuckerberg.
How vulnerable is Zuckerberg? He started the company and is the heart and soul of the organization. How, could he be shown the door? Let’s look at other companies for clarity.
Metaverse big challenge is marketing and acceptance
On one hand, Comcast Xfinity is family business. It started with Ralph Roberts, then was handed down to his son Brian Roberts, who may very likely pass it down to his son Tucker Roberts. This is a publicly owned business as well, but it is still run like a family business.
On the other hand, Steve Jobs started Apple from a garage in Silicon Valley. Jobs was ousted in 1985 but ultimately returned in 1997. It was said he was forced out because the Lisa and the Macintosh did not reach sales expectations.
However, removing Jobs never made sense. There were obviously rough waters between Jobs and his newly hired CEO John Sculley, who was previous CEO of PepsiCo.
So, there is a history of founders being replaced at some point down the road. In many cases the founder is the person with the vision who created the company, but the creative side is not always best at running the actual company.
When Sheryl Sandberg left Facebook, the writing was on the wall
That’s why both Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg were necessary as co-CEOs of Facebook. Through their Yin and Yang of interconnected, but opposite forces, the company grew for many years under their joint leadership.
Facebook was not the only company with co-leaders. Think Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank of Home Depot as another example. They had their own way of running things and building a massive, profitable and successful company. A real Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside.
Without this co-CEO paradigm, ultra-successful companies may not have been.
That’s why when Sheryl Sandberg departed, I said the is writing was on the wall and troubled times were ahead for Zuckerberg and Facebook.
Now, here we are. They have lost massive amounts of market value over the last year.
Amazon, Qualcomm, AT&T, Verizon, Apple, Comcast, Oracle all struggle
Many companies go through this kind of struggle. Example, Amazon always lost market value over its past several decades, but that’s because they were always re-investing in their business making it larger and stronger. Jeff Bezos lead a success story at Amazon.
Not so much for Facebook. Their new direction into the metaverse has been raising many questions since it launched a little more than a year ago.
There is second problem, and this is with the larger economy.
All of a sudden it seems many other companies are also dealing with their own issues of weak economy and struggling with their own job cuts and reduced stock value.
This is a growing list of leaders like Amazon, Qualcomm, Huawei, Apple, Alphabet Google, AT&T, Verizon, Zayo, Cox Communications, Dell, Lyft, Microsoft, You Tube, Comcast, Altice USA, Oracle, Intel, DocuSign and the list continues to grow.
This will not last forever, but this is where we are today.
So, Meta faces this double-edged sword from two different angles. One, the general economic downturn and two, the new, metaverse direction.
Solution for Facebook Meta to recapture growth and stock value
Today, Mark Zuckerberg runs the company on his own. He no longer has Sheryl Sandberg to level the flight path. The Yin lost its Yang.
This is an example of how brilliant founders don’t always have what it takes to run and build a successful company. These are two different skill sets. Very few have both.
So, the solution for Meta woes is actually quite easy. That is if Mark Zuckerberg can swallow his pride and admit he made a mistake.
Let’s remember a similar predicament Coca-Cola faced back in the 1980’s. You remember the New Coke disaster story. The age-old Coca Cola recipe was tweaked to create something new and improve sales.
However, this was worse than a mistake, it was a marketing disaster. Coke customers quickly revolted. Everything at Coke was tanking.
That’s when the CEO publicly admitted they made a mistake. He apologized for the action and went back to the age-old recipe.
The market quickly cut them some slack, Coke quickly recovered, and the lesson was learned.
It’s OK to try new things. However, every CEO must also recognize the marketplace has the ultimate power.
The metaverse should be approached slowly and methodically
Even the CEO can make a mistake. It’s how they respond that makes all the difference. And that is the secret.
I firmly believe if Zuckerberg publicly admits his mistake, that they bit off more than they could chew today, and goes back to the Facebook model that has grown and succeeded over and over, the marketplace will forgive him, and everything will get back on track.
However, if he stays on the current track, things will only get worse for the company, for him personally, and for his reputation.
No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Even CEOs of large and successful companies.
Mark Zuckerberg can be right, or he can be dead right
That’s when the true sign of a successful leader emerges. I know Zuckerberg thinks the metaverse will be a big deal going forward. I know he wants to be the brand that encompasses this new technology.
Zuckerberg wants Meta in the metaverse world to be synonymous like Kleenex in the tissue world.
However, the marketplace has obviously spoken, and Meta is tanking. He is cutting against the grain. He cannot win if he stays on this course. He must take corrective action and recover, before it’s too late.
Like my father taught me when learning to drive in my teens, you can be right, or you can be dead right. So, always make the right call.
So, to Mark Zuckerberg, it’s not too late, but now is the time to act.