In this insightful article, Kara Swisher notes that one big reason that Instagram’s co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, decided to leave was that the popular site was pulling users away from the “big blue” platform that is the core Facebook product. Clanging sounds of early warnings of early-stage fading of advantage!
Leaders can respond two ways when one of their businesses threatens to outshine another. They can be curious as to why customers are finding one offering more attractive than another and take those lessons to heart (hello, iPhone, bye bye iPod). Or they can try to build a moat around the older business, essentially hoping to keep customers hostage. Hostages may stay with you for a very long time, but eventually someone will show them the escape hatch and they will flee.
An even bigger issue with this situation is another motif that plays out in competitive dynamics. By losing those now-wealthy Instagram founders, Facebook has just unleashed two demonstrably capable and social-network savvy entrepreneurs into the wild. They’re young. They’re disappointed with their treatment at the hands of their former employer. They know the business. And they are highly likely to become tomorrow’s most relevant Facebook competitor, particularly now that the negatives of Facebook’s “we sell ads” business model are growing in the eyes of the public.
Why do I think so? Well, the history of Marc Lore, Amazon and Wal-Mart is illustrative. Lore co-founded a company, Quidsi (famous for its diapers.com brand) that Amazon eventually bought for some $550 million. After an acrimonious couple of years under Jeff Bezos’ thumb (sound familiar?), Lore went out on his own with a new startup, Jet.com, motivated, some observers say, by a thirst for revenge.
Today, Lore is gunning for his ex-employer, big-time, with some reported success.
I won’t be the least bit surprised if the next big thing in social media is introduced by Systrom and Krieger.
I started my career in the 90s, as an external management consultant who worked on the business process reengineering aspects of large systems integrations. Our clients would spend millions of dollars reengineering the organization, but they often did not implement the changes. My personal experience reflected what research indicated: 80% of change projects fail.
You stepped into the future…but has it felt more like you stepped off a cliff? Some of the most spectacular strategic failures have been due to poor execution. Unfortunately, the momentum of vision is often short-lived as the reality of the complexity of execution begins to set in. Since 1955, only 57 companies have maintained a position in the Fortune 500 while nearly 2,000 companies have come and gone during that same time period.
If someone handed you a sledgehammer and told you to start smashing your company’s products, would you do it? That’s exactly what Haier CEO Zhang Ruimin did to prove a point to his employees. That was the first in a long line of radical decisions that have transformed the company from a fledgling refrigerator maker to the world’s number one appliance manufacturer – and kept it there.
In a dimly lit wine cellar, we turn to our meal. I am at a corporate dinner filled with executives from fascinating backgrounds. But there is one particular conversation, being led by a fascinating gentleman, that is entirely reframing for me what it means to be a leader.
My wife is from New Orleans, so when we recently got a chance to see the original, we had to stop.
We were driving through France with our kids, on a four-day tour from my family reunion in Germany to our AirBNB in Barcelona, when we realized we’d pass through the “original New Orleans”: Orleans. This is the first town that Joan of Arc helped free from an English siege during the Hundred Years’ War, when England was taking over large swaths of France.
The DMV completely disrupted my plans today. I walked in, notebook and laptop under arm, expecting to spend an hour writing while waiting. But after just 15 minutes I was done!
For over a decade now, corporations have been seeking to understand how to better prepare themselves against the onslaught of technology firms spreading their way into nearly every sector, from banking to real estate to retail. They created incubation groups, acquired startups, sought to create a “culture of innovation.”
Strategy lasts. Derived from the title of ancient Greek government officials charged with rallying resources to fuel military campaigns, refined in China, then ported back to the West by Napoleon, the science or art of coming together to agree on a goal, and the method to achieve it, is an activity that like farming or governing or writing poetry distinguishes human from animal.
Why do big companies change so slowly and die? They dramatically underestimate innovation velocity.
Innovation velocity is the speed and direction of growth that an innovation creates. Small disruptive organisations have very high innovation velocity and this is why they kill big slow incumbents.