Meta BHAG, The Trust Problem, The Greatest Trade of all Time, Mailchimp & The dangerous thing about focusing on your competition
31st October 2021 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“The way to make people trust-worthy is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway
Hope you’re Thriving!
Ernest Hemingway re-wrote the last page of his novel ‘A Farewell to Arms’ 47 times until he was satisfied. Now I’m in no way comparing myself to Hemingway, but I managed to enjoy a familiar emotion this week. For the past few months, I’ve been stuck on one section of one chapter in the new book I’m writing about onboarding. I had undertaken hundreds of hours of research and written and re-written many pages trying to articulate this one concept. But this week, I managed to condense that into a series of concise paragraphs that I’m satisfied with.
This week Facebook changed its name to Meta. Or at least that’s likely a headline you would have read in the past week. But, of course, the name of the Facebook app and website isn’t changing, just the name of the group of companies. Perhaps this is akin to the announcement that Google made a few years ago, adopting the name Alphabet for the group of companies. In looking for a story to tell, the media article you might have read would have included many problems the company has run into. Perhaps even they would have suggested that this is a rebrand to distance themselves from past issues.
When I watched the full keynote from Mark Zuckerberg, at first blush, it felt like only a slick production promoting possibilities we already knew about virtual reality and augmented reality.
But as I discussed last week, the internet is changing from a centralised network to a decentralised and distributed web3 and as a Web 2.0 leader, Facebook knows it must evolve. This change is ironic because Meta is a prefix meaning more comprehensive or transcending.
One of the critical points in the presentation was at the 1hr 15 minute mark; Mark announced a new company BHAG.
Facebook has had a couple of BHAG’s in the past, and it would be difficult to say they hadn’t achieved them. The previous Facebook BHAG’s were “make the world more open and connected” and “give everyone the power to share anything with anyone.”
And now the Meta BHAG is “To help bring the metaverse to life”.
When you think about web3 and its decentralised and distributed nature, a Web 2.0 company might have a BHAG to build a platform for people to experience the metaverse. But Facebook knows the next BHAG must be decentralised. So they can’t own the platform in the way they did with Facebook.
You can watch the full keynote launching Meta here
Also, here’s an excellent article from Ben Thompson detailing the strategy behind the name change
The Trust Problem
One of the most significant issues Facebook has faced recently is one of trust. As a leader in Web 2.0, the things that made them strong, a platform and central control, equally were their challenge. But, as Mark said in the presentation, he’s spent the past five years dealing with issues and looking forward, they are utilising web3 to change this.
A few years ago, I wrote a piece about trust, the four dimensions of trust and why Facebook wasn’t exhibiting any of the four dimensions of trust. Today, with blockchain and distributed, decentralised networks, we have a chance to solve the trust problem, which will have profound positive ramifications for society.
Read The Trust Problem
The Greatest Trade of all Time
Look, I’m not going to put laser eyes on my profile picture anytime soon. Still, the scale of web3 and blockchain technology today and its economic activity rate can’t be ignored by business leaders.
For example, this week, we saw what was potentially the greatest trade of all time. A person bought $8,000 worth of a cryptocurrency coin known as the Shiba token last August. As shown in the image below, that same trade was worth $5.7 billion a few days ago. From $8,000 to $5.7 billion in roughly 400 days.
Consider how much the internet changed from Web 1.0 in the year 2000 until the year 2010 when Web 2.0 was fully adopted. Now consider that level of change from Web 2.0 to web3 in the coming decade. How will that change your industry, your market, your company, or your society?
Intuit buys Mailchimp for $12B
Intuit, best known for its Quickbooks and TurboTax products, last month announced it is acquiring Mailchimp, the email marketing company, for $12 billion. Founded in 2001 and having never taken outside investment, it’s a great story about relentlessly focussing on the boring basics.
On the surface, an accounting software company buying an email marketing company doesn’t seem to make any strategic sense. Still, Intuit knows how automation and AI are impacting the accounting software space. They know to survive, they must solve more problems for small and medium-sized businesses. This is why they acquired Credit Karma for $7.1b in February 2020, giving customers the ability to access their credit scores outside the big three reporting companies: Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
Looking back at the first Mailchimp website in the image below, it’s hard to believe they became a $12 billion company. But, as Jim Collins said, it pays to focus on the boring basics!
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
Many leaders spend way too much time thinking about and talking about their competition. And sometimes this can lead to me-too type reactions, that can lead you to commoditization.
Instead of spending too much time thinking about the competition, instead, leaders should think about the customer, what the customer needs are, and how to meet those needs in a unique and valuable way.
Brad and Kevin talk about the problems with client focus, and why you should spend more time focussing on customers.
The dangerous thing about focusing on your competition
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
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