Mark Zuckerberg has been publicly announcing his personal challenges for each year since 2009. For 2018, his 10th challenge is to work on Facebook’s various issues. In other words, Zuckerberg’s 2018 personal challenge isn’t so personal at all: It’s to do his job as Facebook’s CEO.
Facebook is printing money. For years now, every quarter has largely been a financial success story. As a business, the company is doing more than just fine.
But a CEO isn’t a CFO. Zuckerberg’s responsibilities extend beyond growing revenues and profits. In fact, I would argue a good CEO doesn’t make finance his or her primary concern.
Zuckerberg is starting to think like this, or at least claims he is. During last quarter’s earnings call, he boldly declared:
In many places, we’re doubling or more our engineering efforts focused on security and we’re also building new AI to detect bad content and actors just like we’ve done with terrorist propaganda. I am dead serious about this, and the reason I’m talking about this on our earnings calls is that I’ve directed our teams to invest so much in security on top of our other investments we’re making that it will significantly impact our profitability going forward, and I wanted our investors to hear that directly from me. I believe this will make our society stronger, and in doing so will be good for all of us over the long term, but I want to be clear about what our priorities are.
Taking this statement into account, I’m not surprised Zuckerberg is shifting his personal goals to align with his new professional mission. This is a noticeable deviation from his path.
Here are all of Zuckerberg’s personal challenges so far:
- 2009: Wear a tie every day
- 2010: Learn Mandarin
- 2011: Only eat animals he kills himself
- 2012: Code every day
- 2013: Meet a new person every day who doesn’t work at Facebook
- 2014: Write at least one thank-you note every day
- 2015: Read a new book every two weeks
- 2016: Code an AI assistant and run every day
- 2017: Visit all 50 states
Among these, Zuckerberg’s goal for 2018 stands out like a sore thumb:
The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.
My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.
Most of the previous goals either had to be performed daily or required almost daily work. All of them were difficult to track, especially for those outside of Zuckerberg’s bubble.
This year’s goal still won’t be easy to gauge for progress, but it will certainly be much more doable than all of Zuckerberg’s other challenges. Facebook is a publicly traded company, for one, but more importantly it has over 2 billion users. If serious changes are implemented, the world will notice.
It’s not like Zuckerberg wasn’t working on Facebook over the past 9 years. He was. This year, however, if we are to believe his recent statements, we can expect him to be more personally invested.
Welcome back, Zuck.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.