Apparently the next CEO of Yahoo will not be current Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. He reportedly isn’t interested in the job, and one of the reasons may be that he has a new friend in Facebook.
According to the New York Post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is considering Kilar for a senior role at the world’s largest social network. His job: get Big Media to ‘like’ Facebook.
While some movie studios have experimented with Facebook-based viewing experiences, Facebook itself may be looking to get more actively involved in the entertainment business.
The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson writes that Facebook “clearly harbors content ambitions and could become a destination where people consume as well as talk about movies, music and TV shows,” something that seems to be validated by the company’s Olympics deal with NBC. The social network is also reportedly looking at buying a stake in online music video destination Vevo.
And Facebook’s interests don’t stop at entertainment. According to a recent report, Facebook will launch a jobs board in August. As detailed by the Dow Jones’ Joseph Walker, “The board will aggregate the job postings of third-party providers, making them available for search by Facebook users.”
From entertainment to jobs, the growth of Facebook’s footprint makes sense on paper given the company’s massive audience. But as its social network starts to look more like a one-stop destination for all of one’s digital activities, the question “Is Facebook on the verge of making a huge mistake?” becomes an important one.
Facebook’s twenty-something CEO was still in high school during the first .com boom, which saw some of the biggest brands do battle to become the web’s top portal. It seemed like a good idea at the time: as consumers flocked to the internet, there would be huge opportunities for companies that could serve them in multiple ways. But most of the portals that survived, many of which were originally search engines Yahoo and Lycos, are remnants of their former selves.
It’s arguably no coincidence that the most successful company to emerge from the first .com boom — Google — avoided the portal route and focused on one thing: providing a great search experience. Even today, despite the fact that its footprint has expanded, google.com isn’t filled with the clutter you find at, say, Yahoo.
As the most successful company yet to emerge from today’s .com boom, Facebook seems to be eyeing Yahoo’s path as opposed to Google’s. Its goal of making the world a more connected place appears to be expanding; instead of bringing people together, Facebook increasingly wants to connect people to brands, content, products and services, jobs and everything else under the sun. Yes, it might do this under the guise of acting as the ‘social layer’ of the experience, but increasingly, Facebook is looking more like a portal and less like a social network.
Can it work? Facebook is a unique company, and for a variety of reasons, it’s never a good idea to assume that past is prologue, especially in the rapidly-changing world of technology. But plenty of companies on the consumer internet have tried to be all things to all people, and not in the same ways. Yahoo was very different from AOL, for instance, but they both failed for a simple reason: at some point, a company’s footprint becomes so large that it ceases to do few things well enough to keep enough people sufficiently satisfied. As a result, its service becomes less and less meaningful to larger and larger groups of people.
The fact that should concern Facebook the most is that portals don’t always die suddenly. Quite often, they simply wither away. Lycos, AOL and Yahoo are still operating; the latter two generate billions in revenue even today. But they’re a fraction of what they once were and with a valuation still exceeding $60bn, Facebook faces a particularly bleak future if it looks more like AOL or Yahoo than Google in five years.