Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has become one of the most powerful people on the planet. But even when he talks about things like radically changing his company’s business model, very few people think of removing the Facebook boss.
Zuckerberg said on the company’s recent earnings call that Facebook would be deemphasizing the importance of its bread and butter advertising vehicle, the Newsfeed, in favor of other services. That was just the latest news out of the social media giant that could be of concern to investors. While other public company CEOs would face wrathful shareholders after the past couple years, Zuckerberg and his fellow tech titans seem to sail right through.
According to Wired: “People feel more comfortable being themselves when their content is seen by smaller groups, and (the posts) don’t stick around forever.”
Here’s Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times:
That few can imagine a Facebook without Mr. Zuckerberg, 34, underscores how unaccountable our largest tech companies have become. Mr. Zuckerberg, thanks to his own drive and brilliance, has become one of the most powerful unelected people in the world. Like an errant oil company or sugar-pumping food company, Facebook makes decisions that create huge consequences for society — and he has profited handsomely from the chaos.
Yet because of Facebook’s ownership structure — in which Mr. Zuckerberg’s shares have 10 times the voting power of ordinary shares — he is omnipotent there, answering basically to no one.
This fits a pattern. Over the last two decades, the largest tech companies have created a system in which executives suffer few personal or financial consequences for their mistakes. Big tech has turned founders into fixtures — when their companies are working well, they get all the credit, and when their companies are doing badly, they are the only heroes who can fix them.