Future In REview (FIRe) conference

Future In REview (FIRe) conference

Good morning, All,

First off, our next Breakfast with an Investor will be Wednesday, December 17th and our guest investor will be the one and only David Teten. Register here, and more about David Teten below.

This past week we went to a dinner where the keynote speaker was Mark Anderson, Chair, Future In REview (FIRe) conference. He made ten predictions, and for the record, he tends to be right 94% of the time.  One prediction was that the connected home was a non-starter: “home networks finally get off the launch pad and it turns out that all people want is low energy bills, TVs everywhere and a single remote. What they don’t want is talking refrigerators, things that don’t work, complexity replacing reliability, more nested menus instead of real buttons, dumb things talking to other dumb things and worst of all, hackable home networks.”

We sometimes forget that technology was supposed to make our lives easier. There was a time when you could turn on the television, find a channel to watch – and no icons spun as you waited for it to load. Easy.

While Facebook was not mentioned on Anderson’s list, it did come up in the Q&A, and Anderson addressed the loss of confidence (and the number of people exiting Facebook and why) and it struck us why there is such a growing backlash. Users do get Zucked regularly, when the Dark Lord decides to do things like experiment with users emotions, dictating what should be more prevalent in our respective timelines, and the list goes on.

“Facebook is not innovative, and it’s invasive,” said Anderson. “It’s one step forward, two steps back. Zuckerberg wants your trust and all of your information, then tries to sell you something.”

Facebook started when Zuckerberg was a geeky college kid, but heads up, Mark: you don’t spend ten years trying to seduce someone, and just when it looks like you have them, turn around and sell them bedding.And publish their phone numbers on every men’s room stall in America.

Somewhere along the line, Facebook pivoted. It’s not a social network. It’s The Truman Show, complete with product placement and with Zuckerberg as Christophe.

And people are starting to see that.

Worse, what man cannot remember he is doomed to repeat. What killed MySpace wasn’t Facebook: it was the signal to noise ratio, which led people to the then less-invasive alternative.

Anderson also mentioned Amazon and Bezos’s meglomaniacal drive to own everything.  What’s hurting Amazon presently is that it’s trying to be all things and expanding into areas where they are on terra incognita. Fire Phone? Really? And when you name a product ‘Fire Phone,’ how long do you think it will be before it flames out? Names matter.

Facebook is doing well, according to the last earnings report, and so they’re getting more aggressive but may be time to reign in the hubris a bit and remember that it’s ‘Facebook,’ not ‘Pocketbook.’ For a long time, Amazon was seemingly unstoppable, too  – until Jeff Bezos decided he wanted to control everything (look atthe Hachette debacle, which is far from over and at the end of the day, was not a win for consumers), including the devices on which to reach customers. Do not pass go. Even when TW Cable owned the pipes, they never tried to produce television sets.

Facebook may have a good portion of the people on planet earth on the platform, but user engagement is not up.  Au contraire. And heads up: Facebook is updating its terms of service as of Jan. 1. They state in clearer terms that Facebook will be tracking your location (unless you disable it), vacuuming up data that other people provide about you and even contacts from your phone’s address book (if you sync it to your account) — important provisions many of Facebook’s 1.35 billion users may not even notice when they click “accept.”

We understand that Facebook is a business, but they’d do well to realize that it’s counter advised to push users where they don’t necessarily want to go – or to overstep your boundries. To borrow from The Truman Show analogy, Christophe may be been the Creator – of a television show – but Truman was the star and without him, there was no there there. Facebook might have bullied users onto Messenger, but this too shall pass. What people want is TVs everywhere and a single remote. Most importantly, they decide which channels they’re going to watch or if you’re offering 500 channels and nothing to see – what they’re going to stream. Facebook would do well to learn from the lessons of the cable providers, who offer more and more of nothing to watch (while they raise their rates) – and are hemorrhaging customers to the streaming services. We mention this as Facebook is potentially a great service – why blow it at the 11th hour? Everyone has the point where they say, ‘enough.’ Or rather, as Truman himself said it most poignantly as he checked out of the studio forever, “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!” And so he went the way a good many other Facebook users are going these days…onward and forward.

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