Not too long ago, people made fun of Mark Zuckerberg, who used to be the CEO of Facebook. Sometimes, he seemed a bit robotic when in public, and the way he led Facebook seemed more responsive than creative.
While he was in charge, Facebook often copied ideas from smaller companies instead of coming up with its own. Instead of making new things, Facebook grew by buying other companies, like Instagram and WhatsApp.
The company faced problems with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, revealing how much data it keeps. In 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta, taking a big risk on a new and untested technology called the metaverse. On the business front, Meta experienced a decrease in its number of users for the first time that year.
Surprisingly, by 2023, Meta’s stock price has nearly reached its highest point again, raising Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth to $84 billion. Strangely enough, he now appears somewhat cool and somewhat relatable for a billionaire. These are three important moments from 2023 that illustrate how Zuckerberg changed the situation.
The “Year of Efficiency” Played Well With Investors
Zuckerberg faced a rough start to the year when he had to announce significant job reductions.
Because the main source of income, digital advertising, dropped, the Meta CEO implemented two rounds of layoffs. About 21,000 Meta employees lost their jobs. Zuckerberg referred to these actions as a crucial aspect of his “Year of Efficiency.”
Despite the potential impact on employee morale and Zuckerberg’s public image, it appears that the decision has proven successful.
Investors showed their approval to the Meta CEO for focusing on cost-cutting measures during a challenging economic period, which included eliminating layers of middle management.
This strategy contributed to Meta’s market value reaching $919 billion.
In November, Zuckerberg sold approximately $190 million worth of Meta shares, placing him once again in the top 10 of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Drama with Elon Musk
Zuckerberg’s comeback is also owed, in part, to another tech CEO: Elon Musk.
While Musk took control of Twitter in a tumultuous manner, turned it into X, and laid off a large number of staff, Zuckerberg, his rival, appeared to be a more conventional CEO making standard decisions.
This became even more evident when Musk, who admitted to a relatively light exercise routine, challenged Zuckerberg to a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight. Musk’s grievance was that the Meta CEO was taking advantage of the chaos at X by launching a competing service called Threads. Just days after Threads was launched, Musk wrote on X, “Zuck is a cuck.”
Musk even threatened to visit Zuckerberg’s house to engage in a physical fight. Despite Musk’s actions, the more mature Zuckerberg seemed like the responsible figure in the situation.
Going Open Source on AI
This year, AI has been in the spotlight, largely due to ChatGPT. However, instead of pursuing a profit-oriented strategy, Meta chose a different path with AI.
In July, Meta introduced its (almost) open-source model called Llama 2, a move that has been positively received by developers.
This action provides a robust generative AI tool that is mostly free. Additionally, it adds transparency to a technology that requires it, considering issues related to AI bias and “hallucinations.”
The introduction of Llama 2 also garnered more support for Zuckerberg. Amjad Masad, a former Facebook engineer, expressed admiration, stating that it demonstrates “Zuck has courage” on an episode of the No Priors podcast.‘
Next Year Challenge
Will Zuckerberg be able to maintain the momentum into the next year?
Meta must enhance its efforts in the metaverse, especially with Apple gearing up to launch its competing product, the Vision Pro augmented-reality headset.
Zuckerberg is also facing scrutiny amid reports that Instagram Reels is struggling to remove inappropriate content involving children, as highlighted by the Wall Street Journal.
He also needs to exercise caution in his training. In November, he suffered a torn ACL while preparing for a competitive MMA fight, requiring surgery and causing a delay in the match.
The internet’s preferences can be unpredictable, and 2024 might bring a different outlook for Zuck.
Mark Zuckerberg’s turnaround, marked by business strategies, metaverse ventures, and a clash with Elon Musk, showcases a dynamic shift. Meta’s successes in efficiency, AI openness, and stock recovery illustrate this evolution. However, challenges loom in the form of Apple’s competition and scrutiny on Instagram content. As 2024 approaches, the unpredictable online landscape adds an element of uncertainty to Zuckerberg’s future.