Nobody batted an eye when Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, while it was obvious that these purchases were part of a well-thought-out global plan to establish monopolistic powers and to destroy any semblance of competition.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg controls most of the company’s activity. His power is therefore absolute, and he is not subject to reprimand, much less being fired, because every such attempt by his board of directors would be overruled by the majority shareholders among whom he enjoys support and who would immediately replace the detractors with board members who are easier to control.
That being said, it is highly unlikely that a rebellion or, at the very least, any potential dispute would come from board members making $350,000 a year, especially if they are employees of the company. Zuckerberg is therefore all-powerful, clearly more than any public company’s CEO who, for a CEO’s part, would carry out responsibilities before an independent board that is liable, moreover, to name directors who are only accountable to them and the shareholders.
Establish Supreme Power, Annihilate All Competition
In managing Facebook, Zuckerberg is completely focused on advancing his advertising-based business model, thumbing his nose at all other considerations, even stomping them out. The results are truly significant since Facebook controls, along with Google, close to 85 percent of all online advertising in the world, with revenues that increased 50 percent in 2017 compared to the year before. It is nonetheless this growth and this supreme power that make Zuckerberg so dangerous because Facebook is on the cusp of possessing as much data as any other country in the world! Nobody batted an eye when Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 (for $1 billion) and WhatsApp in 2014 (for $19 billion), while it was obvious that these purchases were part of a well-thought-out global plan to establish monopolistic powers and to destroy any semblance of competition.
More than 50 percent of Shareholders Want Zuckerberg To Leave
Apart from the strict framework of his business model that relies on advertising revenues for growth, Zuckerberg has a record of management mistakes that he has no trouble admitting himself: from the Cambridge Analytica crisis to his characteristic negligence when faced with Russian interference in many Western elections that used Facebook as a platform, to his lack of regard and respect in the face of the exposure of Facebook users’ private lives and confidential data. Zuckerberg is losing ground on another front – that of his shareholders – among whom he has lost a good part of his credibility.
A recent public opinion poll by Business Insider essentially revealed that more than half of Facebook’s independent shareholders feel that he should be fired from the board of directors, while 83 percent are strongly in favor of profound structural changes that would abolish his absolute control of Facebook.
The Time for Major Change Seems To Be Here
This dispute among his shareholders should be taken very seriously, especially since the spectacular performance of Facebook stock (launched at $38 per share in 2012, and today worth close to $200) and the success of the company – which currently has 2 billion users – is unmatched worldwide.
Indeed, the shareholders of a company are generally passive and would sooner sell their shares when there is disagreement over how business is conducted than join forces against it or against the board of directors. A disavowal of Zuckerberg of such magnitude from the shareholders is reason to be worried for his future, because it is traditionally very difficult to unite more than 20 percent to 30 percent of shareholders against senior management of a public company.
The time for major change seems to be here for Facebook and for Zuckerberg who, at a minimum, will see in time his powers largely called into question – and eventually, put to the test, in the company that he founded.
The author is a macroeconomist specializing in financial markets and central banks. He is the founder and director of Art Trading & Finance, a financial advising firm.