A Hater’s Perspective on Facebook and LeBron James

Haters, man. If there’s one downside to achieving tremendous success, ascending to the pinnacle of your field and standing out as one of the greatest to do what it is that you do, it’s the inevitable creation of haters. As sure as accomplishment and achievement will bring you supporters, it will also breed a legion of haters who love nothing more than to watch, analyze and celebrate your often-public failures. As I sat on my couch watching the NBA Finals last night with Facebook open in front of me, I realized I spend a lot of time hating the two things right in front of me; Facebook and LeBron James. And, they’re both about to make me look foolish. I am not saying my hating on Facebook and LeBron was completely unwarranted. In fact, the two have more in common in recent years than you might think. Observe…

  • The past three years have seen both Facebook and LeBron grow into cultural, almost uncomfortably unnatural phenomenon—Facebook nearing 1 billion users and a valuation of over $100 billion; LeBron’s highly criticized move to the Miami Heat to join two other All-Stars (where absurdity and self aggrandization hit an all time high), 3 MVPs in 4 years and back-to-back NBA Finals appearances.
  • There’s an almost unbearable level of smug arrogance—Mark Zuckerberg’s “You need me more than I need you” display of wearing a hoodie on his IPO road show and his basic demeanor in interviews and appearances. And any appearance made, photo taken, or word spoken by LeBron to anyone, ever.
  • There has been an unprecedented amount of scrutiny and criticism of their very public failures—Facebooks’ dumpster fire of an IPO in 2012 and Lebron’s failure to win an NBA title in 2011. (I read, laughed, and wrote about both)
  • Both are responsible for endless hours of entertainment and enjoyment—daily time spent on Facebook is soaring; LeBron James is good at basketball.
  • While they both have had carefully analyzed recent missteps and failures, they also have another similarity in their rise; they both stand on the precipice of unparalleled success in their fields that may silence the haters for good.

In Facebook’s case, their Achilles heel has been mobile, as they have not found a way to successfully monetize their rapidly exploding mobile audience. This has led to advertisers jumping ship, valuations to be dropped, and in some ways, contributing to their disastrous IPO. Zuckerberg and Co. are bolstering that weakness with the launch of a mobile-only ad platform that has ad partners lining up to purchase. Coupled with unprecedented user engagement over desktop users (another Facebook weakness) and Facebook may have solved their mobile monetization woes to cement their long standing dominance of the social space for both desktop and mobile.

And then there’s LeBron, long criticized for shrinking in crunch time and thought to be doomed to retire with no championship ring. Winning his first NBA Championship last night over the Oklahoma City Thunder, with seemingly no holes in his game to speak of, LeBron is poised to potentially rattle off a string of championships, the likes of which fans haven’t seen since MJ (who happened to have a few haters himself). So in my face, right? Haters gonna hate. Winners gonna win. And I’ll see you on Facebook.

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