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Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Tim Cook (Apple) are great examples of the difference between a unicorn-entrepreneur and a corporate-bureaucrat.
In the last few months, we have not heard much from Cook other than his commencement day address at Stanford where he spoke eloquently about the need for integrity and a higher purpose. He is also said to have visited the White House to discuss President Trump’s job training efforts.
In the meantime, Mark Zuckerberg is looking to keep his empire intact and expand it.
Zuckerberg is doing all he can to avoid taking responsibility for Facebook’s misdeeds in 2016 and beyond, and is losing credibility not only with the world at large, but also his own employees.
He is vociferously arguing that it is the government’s responsibility to write laws regarding government oversight. This could allow Facebook to influence how the laws are written, game these laws, and blame the government for future screw-ups, which will definitely occur (given Facebook’s history and ethics).
In trying to keep his empire together, Zuckerberg is combining Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp in a way that makes it difficult to break them apart.
Most importantly, he has organized a really impressive consortium that includes Mastercard, Visa, Uber, and other blue-chip names in order to jump on the cryptocurrency trend. There is also room for a Swiss bank here. One key question is whether the Swiss bank will make the rest of Facebook an information fortress or will Facebook make the Swiss bank a data sieve. Let’s see if the Swiss are as incompetent and influenced by lobbyists as are most American legislators and regulators.
The first salvo in this war has begun, predictably from the finance industry that stands to be the most adversely affected by Zuckerberg’s chutzpah. Banks are known for at least trying to protect your data. Will Facebook follow this practice? Or will Libra, the crypto launched by Zuckerberg, become a haven for the underworld that seems to be thriving in cryptocurrency?
The question is whether Zuckerberg is doing what Cook should be doing? Would Jobs have allowed Zuckerberg to take the lead in the emerging crypto industry? The entrepreneur that Zuckerberg is copying is Steve Jobs, who re-built Apple with three signature platforms:
- iPod was launched in the emerging online music industry and brought legitimacy to music downloads.
- iPad was launched in the emerging industry of compact computers and built a platform for digital media.
- iPhone was launched in the emerging cell phone industry and became the platform for apps.
Zuckerberg is launching Libra in the emerging industry of cryptocurrency. Whether or not he is able to bring legitimacy to cryptocurrency remains to be seen. What he has going for him is the same brashness we saw in Jobs. What he has going against him is a seeming disregard for privacy and ethics. Jobs would have tried to build an impregnable fortress.
Apple under Cook has settled into comfortable middle age under a corporate bureaucrat, while Facebook under Zuckerberg is displaying all the fiery characteristics of unicorn-entrepreneurs such as Jobs by:
- Focusing on opportunity exploitation rather than the corporate habit of defending borders
- Being brazen and aggressive rather than defensive and bureaucratic
- Focusing on offense rather than defense.
How do we make a corporate-bureaucrat into a unicorn-entrepreneur? Can we? Should we?
MY TAKE: What’s the right solution for our increasingly bureaucratic corporations and CEOs? Train them in the skills needed to become unicorn-entrepreneurs? The training may be easier. The “becoming” may require a spine transplant. Jobs made Apple a great company. I cannot think of anything he did in business that was disgraceful. Cook is a “CEO,” just trying to maintain the Apple status quo and, like most CEOs, is overpaid. Zuckerberg? History will decide. But in the meantime, we need to protect our democracy and our electronic wallets from him.
July 8, 2019 at 12:07PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs