“Instagram can hurt us” are the words of Mark ZUckeberg in some emails that were given before the purchase of the photo application by Facebook. The United States antitrust commission is investigating the founder of Facebook, and the leaked emails do not help at all.
Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Facebook and has been on court for a few years for different matters. She has had to give explanations about the Cambridge Analytica case, uncovering a strong controversy, and now she is before the authorities of the United States Government investigating monopoly cases.
In 2012, Facebook had a large user base, but the truth is that its presence in the mobile market was rather testimonial. On the other hand, Foursquare, Pinterest or Instagram not only moved well in this area, but some were created expressly for use on mobile devices, smartphones that were beginning to take off and for which the Facebook of the time had no responsiveness .
“I just need to decide if we buy Instagram. We will regret not doing it because it can do us a lot of significant harm even if it doesn’t become big business, “Zuckerberg wrote in an email to Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Ebersman, in early 2012. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
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As The Verge has published, in 2012 there was already an interest in not being accused of monopoly (Something that Microsoft had to face years ago for practices very similar to those of Facebook and Ebersman knew it well. Zuckerberg claimed, in addition to that companies like Instagram could harm Facebook, that inspired by their success, the creators would not want to sell, but would consider it if they were offered a high enough price, such as $ 500 or $ 1 billion. In the end, it was 1,000 million.
Ebersman wanted to ‘reassure’ Zuckerberg with a series of questions in which he asked about the reasons, if it had to do with integrating Instagram products and other possible purchases within Facebook to improve Facebook, if he wanted to acquire talent or if it was simply a mechanism to neutralize a potential competitor .
Of the three questions, only two were less bad, the first two, since an affirmative answer to the third is a monopolistic practice, which is precisely what the commission is currently investigating, setting up the ‘Big Four’ (Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple) in the interrogation bench.
These are some of the reasons why we will never see companies like Google or Microsoft born on the European continent.
And yes, as you can imagine at this point in the film, Zuckerberg’s most obvious idea was to neutralize the competition through a purchase. Specifically, Zuckerberg’s response was:
“There is a network effect around social products and a finite number of mechanics to invent. Once someone becomes the leader of that mechanic, it is difficult for others to supplant it without doing something different. We are buying time because, although other competitors arise, buy Instagram, Path, Foursquare, etc. now it will give us one more year of advantage to integrate its dynamics before any other approaches that scale. If we do that, any new product will not have much traction as we will have the original mechanics implemented on a large scale. “
That statement evidences a monopolistic idea and Mark had to notice, or be advised, and about 45 minutes later he sent a short email, but qualifying his words:
“I didn’t mean to imply that we would buy them to prevent them from competing with us in any way.”
Despite this last email, it seems that the commission of inquiry into monopolistic practices has more than enough to investigate a little more about the episode and, in fact, Mark’s nuance of his words to that point is further proof to the committee that he really knew perfectly well that he was doing something unlawful.
“It will be time before Facebook can buy Google”
Filtered Facebook emails are a real gem, but there is a bombshell that we did not expect. And, in addition to these emails, it has been leaked an internal Facebook thread in which they talk about Google.
Before buying Instagram, a Facebook engineer wrote in the chat:
“Google+ is a bogus clue. We are distracted by a crappy clone while others like Instagram and Pinterest rise up and create new markets that we didn’t see coming.”
Facebook had a project that aimed to collect medical data from its users.
To this, Zuckerberg replied after purchasing Instagram with a:
“I remember your post about how Google+ was not a threat and Instagram was. You were right and one of the things about startups is that you can often buy them. One reason why people underestimate the importance of Google” -we are in Remember- “It is because we can probably always buy any other competitive new company, but It will be a while before we can buy Google“
Now, I think Facebook has gotten a little complicated buying a Google that is one of the most powerful companies, for all its services, on the planet. We will see what happens with Facebook and with a sanction that may be close, but the truth is that the leakage of these emails will not help Zuckerberg be acquitted.