When it comes to experimentation, as one of our product leaders says, you either win or you learn. And in the pursuit of the win, you must first learn – a lot.
Well, we’ve learned a lot of lessons since we began our journey: from how freeform expression around identity could help young people find belonging to how fandom might evolve for creators to how decentralized, crowdsourced wisdom might actually arrive at truth.
As Meta enters a new era of building for the future, we’re taking these and other lessons learned into the next phase of our journey. Our approach to experimentation will remain the same: building new products from the ground-up and investing in external startups. But we believe that building universal products and experiences in this new era will require a different mindset. While technology-centric experimentation will always be a part of what we do (i.e., we’re just as excited about Web3 and AI as everyone else), we’re shifting more attention to meet the needs of a rapidly changing global society.
Meta has always enabled entrepreneurs around the world to build new experiences and grow their businesses. Despite our platform technology’s seeming uniformity, it was never just a one-way street. Entrepreneurs wielded it and societies adopted it in wildly different ways in different parts of the world. In Silicon Valley, some entrepreneurs used it to build games, while equally talented entrepreneurs in India used it to facilitate ride-sharing and blood donations, and others in Sweden used it to disrupt the music industry. One thing I learned from our global platform work is that technology’s true impact on society has more to do with the people using it than the technology itself.
Moreover, the things we consider to be universal experiences often first emerge from niche communities. For example, the shift to the mobile internet and launch of push notifications led people in countries where SMS wasn’t free to adopt WhatsApp, before it saw broader global adoption. The shift to mobile coupled with a lack of legacy payment systems enabled mobile money innovation and adoption in East Africa years before its adoption in the rest of the world. In this next era, we believe even more ideas that reshape how people around the world connect and communicate will emerge first in niche communities. So, we’re starting this next page focused on building with and for communities that have historically been overlooked, underestimated, and undervalued by our industry.
I’m thinking in particular of women and people of color. They make up the majority of the world’s people, but they have been historically underserved by our industry. As we look towards the future, they are the emergent majority with power to shape the technologies that will impact their lives and ours. They — along with other audiences too — deserve more bespoke digital experiences, with more control, ownership, expressions of agency, and avenues for collaboration.
It’s also long past time for the internet — and the metaverse, in its time — to better represent and reward the people who drive its vitality. Whether it’s Black Americans who shape global popular culture, or the young entrepreneurs changing urban life on the African continent, or the women leading economic growth in India, these groups should be at the center of the next era of innovation. Their perspective matters as much as anyone driving up and down the 101 in Silicon Valley every day, if not more.
Because of that, we’re expanding from our current US footprint to build with and for communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and scaling what works there across the globe. Right now, the increase of global connectivity and falling cost of experimentation have created new opportunities. During this next era, anyone with a design mindset, wherever they are, can quickly see that rapid experimentation overrides received wisdom, and adapt. We need to be more intentional about building with proximity to how the world looks today, and how it’s going to look tomorrow. In time, this is how we’ll learn to identify universal experiences.
For our part, this means thinking less about trends and more about understanding all the communities we’re working with and for. Once we build that connection, we’ll be better equipped to experiment and build new experiences for productivity and play, and create new economic opportunities.
In short, in order to win, we have to learn.
On to page three.