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Shira Ovide

Facebook’s Nostalgic Mood Isn’t Helping

Yes, it solved mobile, but that’s not the answer to every challenge.

Past performance is no guarantee of future success.

Past performance is no guarantee of future success.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg 

Technology companies don’t tend to look backward. Reminiscing is for old fogy companies; new economy superstars look ahead. Lately, however, Facebook Inc. has been reaching into its past to inspire outsiders’ confidence in its future. The company’s historical musings feel forced and off base. 

In recent months, Facebook officials and supporters have repeatedly flashed back to when Facebook overcame an obstacle that could have crippled it. The company’s 2012 initial public offering coincided with a significant acceleration of people using the internet on smartphones rather than on personal computers. Facebook was caught flat-footed by the change. Its smartphone apps were clunky, and it didn’t have a sound strategy for generating advertising revenue from users scrolling Facebook on phones. The mobile shift was the biggest crisis for a young company that had weathered many.