While all of tech bets on logistics, cars, and drones, Facebook is all about its augmented world
It seems everyone was relieved that Mark Zuckerberg product visionary showed up to f8, and Mark Zuckerberg, politician speaking in vague catch-alls, traveling the US and kissing babies mostly stayed home.
I was dreading coming up with a new way to say what I already said about his 6,000 word manifesto.
As our politicians are acting more like CEOs, our CEOs are acting more like politicians. Zuckerberg has an entire team constructing what he posts on his feed, so imagine how much work goes into scripting a manifesto or a keynote. When it comes to the grander rhetoric, it’s becoming increasingly hard to know exactly what he stands for, as he promotes feel-good messages that can lead you in whatever direction you want to believe Facebook is going in. He mostly side-stepped hot button issues like fake news and the murder on Facebook Live just days before, with the bland “we will do betters” we now expect from Facebook.
It’s strange that as Zuckerberg goes from a man who used to speak in as few words as possible to a man who extolling speeches, manifestos and emotionally-packed wall posts (do we still call them walls?) I find I have fewer words to say about all of his many thousands of words.
The bulk of his talk was about product, specifically why that Oculus deal may one day look like a bargain, and the avalanche of features Facebook is going to use to bury what’s novel about Snapchat.
The most interesting take-away I’ve had watching f8 from a distance, is the confirmation of a throwaway observation I made in a larger story last week. While the bulk of tech has been moving more aggressively into the real world-- whether it’s the highest valued private companies of our era like Airbnb or Uber or it’s the Googles and Amazons and Apples of the world getting into drones and cars and trucks and satellites-- Facebook has mostly shifted its attentions and focus into bits, bits, bits, bits, bits. (With the exception of its drone and plan to beam Internet down to India, both of which have had set backs.)
Facebook is all in on that early $2 billion Oculus bet. It was all augmented reality, bots, and virtual reality.
Ethan Kaplan put it best:
Watching F8 and we are nearly to Ready Player One level dystopia. Fantastic.— Ethan Kaplan (@ethank) April 19, 2017
Philosophically, it’s a bold, contrarian strategic bet that I don’t think a lot of people are giving Facebook credit for. As it, Google, Apple and others vie to become the first trillion dollar company, Facebook, for one, is playing a radically different game to get there.
It’s also another step in what Facebook has done well since the earliest days: Slowly and methodically enlarging its walled garden to encompass more of the world. It started with Harvard. Then colleges generally. Then cities and companies you work at. Then the US. Then the world. And now, the world itself is going to be a manipulatable Facebook object.