Forbes recently wrote an article about Why Google and Facebook Might Completely Disappear in the Next 5 Years, which had echoes what Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in Outliers, when it said, “Your long-term viability as a company is dependent on when you were born.”
The author (and Forbes) were getting ripped on this article on Hacker News – but no one can predict the future – we can only look at the past – and even though the timeline is short (15 years), history says Facebook and Google will fail unless they [can] pivot. The gist is that they can’t pivot. It’s not in their paradigm to accept what’s next. Can you?
But the statement, “X will fail unless they can pivot” is true for every company. The companies that make up the Fortune 500 don’t have a long life on the fortune 500. To say that the web will die out and vanish is reaching, and to say that it will in the next five years is really reaching.
Does the author (or any analysts) really expect mobile usage to dry up the well of search advert dollars or that mobile apps will eliminate the public/customer need for search?
The anti-trust lawsuit that is being dredged up against Google will do more to slow them than anything else in the next five years.
And, to say that Facebook can’t have staying power because MySpace didn’t is far from an analysis.
I do agree that the web is not dying – all apps need a website even if they think they don’t. Facebook will do (and has done) better than Myspace because they are a software company first, ran by programmers who have kept Facebook constrained, which has helped it grow.
The problem is that Google only got into social because they were chasing Facebook, just like Microsoft went to the cloud to chase Google. And Facebook only got into mobile because the people demanded it – but they were (and are) late to the game. They are buying Instagram because they are scared of it – not because it will help them grow.
I read something from Seth Godin today that said basically that not all companies can grow. Some do better when their small and can’t scale across that middle “dead zone” to be a big company. Some companies don’t work as a big company either (like web or graphic designers – at least not using the business models in place now).
“Perhaps getting a little bigger isn’t what you want, and it might not even be possible.” -Seth Godin