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Learn from Facebook’s Informal Motto of “Don’t be too proud to copy”

Learn from Facebook’s Informal Motto of “Don’t be too proud to copy”

This is a Short Note.

Facebook is making sure no one has a chance to challenge its dominance in social media. Any social media app or ecosystem that shows any element of competitive capability must be nipped at the bud. So, it copes Snapchat and it does it so cleverly that you cannot mistake the bravado. The good news is that Facebook copies legally and that is what matters. You should not be ashamed to copy; I do copy, legally.

Fortune email newsletter summarizes the latest efforts to copy Houseparty, a video meeting app, thus:

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Like earlier tech giants, Facebook maintains its dominance in part by buying, copying or otherwise disrupting smaller upstarts that start to horn in on its turf. Wall Street Journal reporters take a look at how the social network keeps tabs on small startups with a report on the experiences of video meeting app Houseparty.

Facebook may already be trying to copy the app’s features, the paper reports: At an all-hands meeting last summer, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees they shouldn’t let pride get in the way of serving users, another way of saying they shouldn’t be afraid to copy rivals, according to someone who was at the meeting. The message became an informal internal slogan: “Don’t be too proud to copy.”….

Facebook is being aided by an internal “early bird” warning system that identifies potential threats, according to people familiar with the technology.

There are three lessons here:

  • Copying is not bad, provided you do it legally. Most times, the best strategy is to copy what works provided you see a path of creating value after copying it.
  • Facebook has limitedo ego, when you examine how it has kept Snapchat in check by carefully copying its features. In a largely patent-free sector, Facebook has the upper hand. Size is an advantage and network effect is a huge competitive advantage.
  • Be watchful at the flanks: Facebook is doing all it can do to ensure it remains the category-king of its sector. It is watching its flanks, as Sun Tzu recommends in The Art of War,   making sure that no company comes to dislodge it. This is the way to play defense by running a good offence as that means putting pressure on the people coming after your sector.

Few years ago, it was reported that Google tracks promising startups with good stats on its cloud and then invests in them. What these big U.S. tech companies are doing is the very reason it will be challenging to disrupt them. They buy, copy or disrupt new startups, and they do not care. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, noted that copying criticism does not worry him: ” I guess I’m not that worried about that,” Zuckerberg said in response to criticism about Facebook copying Snapchat.” I think it should not worry you too. The key is making sure you do so legally.


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