Facebook vs. Google+: A peek into how the war was won

Why did Google’s social networking challenge to Facebook fail?

It’s complicated, but this may be part of the answer. An excerpt from a new book by a former Facebook employee, as adapted in Vanity Fair‘s summer issue, shows how CEO Mark Zuckerberg pulled out all the stops after Google rolled out Google+ in 2011.

Zuck took it as an existential threat comparable to the Soviets’ placing nukes in Cuba in 1962. Google Plus was the great enemy’s sally into our own hemisphere, and it gripped Zuck like nothing else. He declared “Lockdown,” the first and only one during my time there. As was duly explained to the more recent employees, Lockdown was a state of war that dated to Facebook’s earliest days, when no one could leave the building while the company confronted some threat, either competitive or technical.

Antonio García Martínez, whose book “Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley” is coming out this month, goes on to write that Zuckerberg ordered his employees to step up their game. Facebook needed to be more reliable and provide an improved user experience.

In a company whose overarching mantras were DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT and PERFECT IS THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD, this represented a course correction, a shift to the concern for quality that typically lost out to the drive to ship.

Facebook employees started working on weekends, Martinez writes. “Internal Facebook groups sprang up to dissect every element of the Google Plus product.”

And in case you thought Zuck was all code and no classics, the reported highlight of his call to arms was: “You know, one of my favorite Roman orators ended every speech with the phrase Carthago delenda est. ‘Carthage must be destroyed.’ For some reason I think of that now.”

Fast forward to 2016. With about 1.6 billion users, Facebook remains atop the social networking world. Meanwhile, Google+ has become something else — it’s not dead, but a Facebook killer it is not. It has gone from being a requirement when opening a Google account to something that’s been redesigned to focus on people with special interests, akin to Reddit and Pinterest.


Photo from Associated Press


Tags: , , ,


Share this Post

  • Marc_Razia

    Facebook may have won the “war”, but I get a lot more activity on G+.

  • Google+ is a certain niche for people used to forum posting. That’s it’s greatest asset. A posting box that’s clean to add links in, without messy code tags needed in blogging. Longer than Twitter, integrated in the Google services. Plus, you don’t need to give Zuck your personal info to sell (why I don’t use Facebook [it’s UI is god awful, too]).

  • They should let it be, turn it over to the nerds and let it do it’s own thing. Before Joomla there was Mambo which a company wrangled into the ground, and the open source developers forked and it is #2 to WordPress. SONY acquired EQ from Verant and wrangled it into the ground, Project 1999 revived it doing the impossible with no help. There are really smart people out there who like doing great things, why is it so important fr these companies to stroke their egos instead of letting the people who want to do cool stuff, do it… I will never understand those people, they would rather take everything to the grave…

    John inBoulderCO
    Boulder Bridges SEO & MARKETING
    4747 Table Mesa Dr
    Boulder, CO 80305
    Location assitance:

  • Pajser

    For me, facebook is like my little village – I know few people, everyone from the outside can come, but no one really does. On the other side, g+ is like being thrown in the center of Sao Paulo; explosion of life. Pity that google took defensive stance. They were able to win this competition, and still are – they just have to integrate all their products on smooth way;