... takes the opposite view, called population ecology or organizational ecology, which [posits that] managers don’t really matter all that much. Their backgrounds - including education and career paths - have a big effect on how they see the world, various competitive situations and the choices they make.
Moreover, says the Doc: "This view grew out of sociologists who’d taken to study organizations in the 1970s. They assert that organizational outcomes have much more to do with industry effects than who the Ceo is and the choices he or she makes. They study birth and death rates of populations of organizations, as well as the effects of age, competition and resources in the surrounding environment on an organization’s birth and death rate. Most of these organizational ecology scholars come out of the University of California at Berkeley.
"As I age and watch what’s happening in the world of internet and mobile, I can’t stop thinking of these ecologists though.
"More and more in the internet space, it seems that your long-term viability as a company is dependent on when you were born.
Think of the differences between generations and when we talk about how the Baby Boomers behave differently from Gen X’ers and additional differences with the Millennials. Each generation is perceived to see the world in a very unique way that translates into their buying decisions and countless other habits.
"In the tech/internet world, we’ve really had three generations:
- Web 1.0 (companies founded from 1994 – 2001, including Netscape, Yahoo!, AOL, Google, Amazon and eBay.
- Web 2.0 or Social (companies founded from 2002 – 2009, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Groupon.
- And now Mobile (from 2010 – present, including Instagram).
Jackson continues: "With each succeeding generation in tech the internet, it seems the prior generation can’t quite wrap its head around the subtle changes that the next generation brings.
Web 1.0 companies did a great job of aggregating data and presenting it in an easy to digest portal fashion. Google did a good job organizing the chaos of the web better than AltaVista, Excite, Lycos and all the other search engines that preceded it. Amazon did a great job of centralizing the chaos of e-commerce shopping and putting all you needed in one place.
When Web 2.0 companies began to emerge, they seemed to gravitate to the importance of social connections. MySpace built a network of people with a passion for music initially. Facebook got college students. LinkedIn got the white collar professionals. Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon showed how users could generate content themselves and make the overall community more valuable.
Yahoo is already a shell of its 2000 self. There is increasing chatter (including from me) about how Google’s facing a painful multiple contraction, once its desktop search business (still accounting for the vast majority of its revenues and profits) starts to fall off a cliff as users dramatically drop traditional search for new ways of getting information they want in a mobile world.
Is Amazon destined to decline? There seem to be no signs of it today and people will still need to buy stuff in a mobile world, but the new mobile platform will certainly open the possibilities for new entrants that Amazon can’t even imagine today.
Facebook is also probably facing a tough road ahead as this shift to mobile happens. As Hamish McKenzie said last week: “I suspect that Facebook will try to address that issue [of the shift to mobile] by breaking up its various features into separate apps or HTML5 sites: one for messaging, one for the news feed, one for photos, and, perhaps, one for an address book. But that fragments the core product, probably to its detriment.”
Considering how long Facebook dragged its feet to get into mobile in the first place, the data suggests they will be exactly as slow to change as Google was to social. Does the Instagram acquisition change that? Not really, in my view. It shows they’re really fearful of being displaced by a mobile upstart. However, why would bolting on a mobile app to a Web 2.0 platform (and a very good one at that) change any of the underlying dynamics we’re discussing here? I doubt it.
Read the original unabridged article