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Opinion
Katie Benner

Facebook Has an Innovation Problem, Even @Work

Mark Zuckerberg has a knack for identifying threats to Facebook and warding them off with a strategic acquisition. But he’s been less adept at developing his own killer products that take advantage of hot new trends.
One of these days, Facebook will make some money.

One of these days, Facebook will make some money.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Mark Zuckerberg has a knack for identifying threats to Facebook and warding them off with a strategic acquisition. He snapped up the photo-sharing service Instagram and the developing world’s most popular messaging app, WhatsApp, for huge sums to keep those popular, mobile-first products from hurting the mammoth social network he founded.

But he’s been less adept at developing his own killer products that take advantage of hot new trends. When he couldn’t buy Snapchat for billions of dollars, his internal teams came up with a rival disappearing-message app called Slingshot. The service is similar, save for the fact that you can’t open a message until you send one back. The premise was overly complicated and the app basically fizzled when people decided that they didn’t always want to have to send an inane message just to get a bit of ephemera. Facebook’s efforts to work with mobile developers also floundered until the company acquired a startup called Parse. Paper, the company’s Flipboard-like product, has gotten some traction but still isn't an important Facebook asset.