Mark Zuckerberg has just taken a page from Jeff Bezo's book on Innovation and Leadership.
Facebook has just announced that it will release its own cryptocurrency, Libra, to provide cheap, accessible financial services to those without bank accounts. Facebook hopes to generate more advertising revenue from companies that sell currency-denominated goods to customers.
If successful, the technology company's bold move into the financial sector could shake up the world banking system. It may prove particularly valuable to "bankeless" people in developing countries, said Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang who already sees so much of Facebook's growth as a platform.
Cryptocurrency, however, is notoriously risky. Goldman Sachs considered opening a cryptocurrency trading counter, but withdrew at short notice.
For Facebook, a scandal-hit tech giant in recent years, entering a whole new industry means taking a risk that could cost the business significantly in the event of a failure. But Jeff Bezos would say that's what the best companies should do.
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Bezos has introduced multi-risk, risky innovations to Amazon. For example, the e-commerce giant attempted to grab the smartphone throne with the release of the Amazon Fire phone in 2014. Unfortunately, the phone for Bezos was killed in just one year, and the company lost $ 170 million.
But these big missions have also proved transformative. Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud computing platform, was launched in 2006. It generated more than $ 25 billion in revenue in 2018 and generated most of its operating income. Amazon Prime Video and Alexa are other innovations that appear to be obvious in hindsight but were not without risk at the time of their launch.
"While the fire phone was a mistake," Bezos wrote in its shareholder letter this year, "we were able to leverage our insights (as did the developers) and accelerate our efforts to build Echo and Alexa."
Embracing "dead ends"
Bezos describes trying new things as "dead ends". When ideas fail, you reach a dead end. When customers welcome the innovation, the lane opens up into a "huge, wide avenue".
Amazon's culture of constantly trying new things – even if it means failure or dead ends – is at odds with companies that focus on what competitors do. Companies that pay too much attention to competitors are losing sight of customers' wishes, according to Bezos.
Zuckerberg has long been keeping an eye out for Instagram's and WhatsApp's acquisition of the next big thing. With Libra he takes Facebook by the hand through the dead end.