Pure coincidence? Let’s bet that Mark Zuckerberg, caught up in adversity, played it smart once again. He therefore wisely waited until the day after the mid-term elections in the United States to announce the dismissal of 11,000 Meta employees, or 13% of its 87,000 employees worldwide. It didn’t go unnoticed, but one need only look at mainstream media outlets to see that the bad news was totally crushed by the semi-defeat of the “Trumpists.”
The boss of Meta and therefore of Facebook, WhatsApp or even Instagram had, moreover, the good taste to admit that it was all his fault. He would have sinned by optimism, betting on the fact that the good habits of online living during the pandemic are here to stay. But now, the virus has finally receded and with it the very large profits of Meta. Mark Zuckerberg is keeping a low profile.
Another guy, another style. There, we are talking about the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, follower of management by chaos. After the long preparatory saga of his takeover of Twitter, he ended up putting his 44 billion dollars on the table. In the process, he fired an impetuous tweet half of his 7,500 employees, some of whom he had to rehire because the social network threatened to implode.
At the same time, in incredible confusion, he announced paid certification at $8, the end of “censorship” on the network (racists and others immediately let go), his support for Donald Trump and, to give substance to the all, he retweeted a huge fake news about the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband. Everything is whimsical provocation with Elon Musk. Madness, at least in bits, is often the friend of genius. You need it to set up companies like Tesla or SpaceX.
“He fired half of his 7,500 employees with an impetuous tweet.”
Zuckerberg and Musk are not alone in downsizing. Many small American techs have disappeared or drastically reduced their costs. Among their other big colleagues in GAFA, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple, profits have also plummeted. Personal stop and falling budgets. At Meta, the futuristic project Metavers (creation of a virtual world), which devours billions of investments, does not provoke the expected enthusiasm by far.
The advertising market, udder of social networks and Google, is also in decline, like the sale of smartphones and computers. Not to mention the pressure from governments which, in Europe and now in the United States, are trying to limit the weight of the GAFA, these new overpowered rivals of the States. The public, meanwhile, is beginning to worry about Big Tech taking over our digital identities and managing our online lives. Finally, new players have landed on the networks, such as TikTok. Innovative, agile, made for new generations who don’t feel at home on Facebook, they carve croupiers from the old guard of social networks.
Should we see here the beginnings of a fall of the digital giants? Some would like to believe it. But it’s obviously far too early for that kind of prognosis, even though American history is full of dead giants. Let us remember the breakup of AT&T, the telecom monster, or the more recent disappearance, in another sector, of Lehman Brothers.
The wheel is turning faster and faster in the digital age. It is clear that since the prodigious advent of the iPhone, Big Tech has no longer produced major, disruptive innovations. It is more than likely that the novelty that will change our lives tomorrow will emerge elsewhere, where we least expect it. It’s time to take a ride in the garages. While keeping an eye on the GAFAs.
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Chronicle – Should we prepare for the fall of “Big Tech”?
– Should we prepare for the fall of “Big Tech”?
Pierre Ruetschi – Journalist, Executive Director of the Swiss Press Club