We all make mistakes. Last week at TechCrunch Disrupt we learned that Mark Zuckerberg's big mistake, thus far, was putting the company's proverbial eggs in the HTML 5 basket. As he noted, this was a choice that they made as opposed to building a native app and I admit, at Taptera, we're biased towards native apps. I'm not going to say "I told you so" since I've never met the man, however, I could have told anyone HTML 5 wasn't quite ready.
That said it's easy to make mistakes. When I was at Genentech building mobile productivity solutions for the workforce, we made plenty of them. We were expected, however, to ideate, iterate and try again. Mistakes were something that were welcome and even though the company itself was essentially public at the time, our area was focused solely on mobile solutions and so was relatively protected from external scrutiny (though don't forget internal can be just as bad!).
The magnitude of the criticism Facebook felt for the glitchy, slow application they had in the market until just recently couldn't have been fun to be on the receiving end of. That said it's a mark of a conscientious leader to say what Mark did this week, "'Good enough' wasn't good enough." Isn't that point what it so often comes down to? In business, when you're talking to prospects and you're explaining some piece of your offering - if one component isn't good enough, then isn't the whole thing ultimately sub par, don't you run the risk of someone then coming along with a better holistic offering? Having even one piece of your puzzle be not good enough opens yourself up to competitive attacks that, in reality, you should be able to stave off. It comes back to the old adage, "you're only as strong as your weakest link."
As I mentioned, at Genentech, product flops were quickly iterated on and evolved to a useful place or put into the deadpool. I can safely say that as the CEO of an enterprise, mobile app startup now I can, in some ways, relate to Mark's pain. When you make the decisions that you think are right it takes a big person to say, this was clearly wrong. I think it's admirable, and a sign perhaps of humility gained since the IPO, that Mark was able to talk so candidly about their missteps in their mobile strategy while admitting that he himself lives on his device (whatever device that may be!).
One of the best feelings must be your stock price improving after you open your mouth and that's exactly what happened to Facebook and Mark this week. Cries for "more Mark" can't feel bad. One of the biggest take aways though was presentation, as Steven Russolillo at The Wall Street Journal pointed out, "analysts generally applauded Zuckerberg's composure and long-term focus for the company." No hoodie, no problem.
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