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Does Facebook Need a New CEO?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As so many of us predicted, the Facebook (FB) phone and attendant Facebook "Home" app has been a pathetic failure.

The well-regarded cats over at the BGR Report claim that after discounting it to 99 cents, AT&T (T) will ditch the HTC First altogether sooner rather than later. It's not selling well. At all. And the separate Home app isn't performing any better.

Whether the BGR scoop ends up being true or not is neither here nor there. Facebook has problems. Problems it probably should not have.


It was one thing -- and the appropriate thing -- for Mark Zuckerberg to admit that Facebook missed on mobile, but it's entirely another to use sleight-of-English-language on the whole We will not do a smartphone thing. And it's even worse to, for all intents and purposes, admit failure in other areas. Facebook didn't need a branded phone and it didn't need the Home app.

Zuckerberg took his eye off of the ball. Hopefully Sheryl Sandberg can focus on the company she chiefly operates (less on "leaning in" and "work-life balance") and reign Zuck's focus back in.

Facebook is an app. There's no shame in that. It never needed to be the default feature on a phone or an app of an app that could dominate your random Android smartphone. All Facebook needed to -- and still needs to do -- is concentrate on providing the best social media platform possible.

This idea of having its own phone -- irrespective of who produces the actual hardware -- or an app for an app smacks of weakness. It says, we're really not sure we can maintain our dominant position, therefore we must find other ways to saturate people's lives.

Before the HTC failure and Home app flop, Facebook occupied prime real estate on most people's smartphones. As far as I know, it still does. First page. Easy finger tapping position. All it needs to do to stay there is provide the hundreds of millions of people who use it, love it or hate it, but still use it the best experience possible. Make it as compelling as it can be.


All of this other jive is ancillary stuff that shows that folks who said Zuckerberg's greenness would hurt him (I wasn't one of them admittedly) were right. This is high-time for Facebook to refocus and take a long look in the mirror.

I still like the company. Still like the stock. Facebook remains a key player in the mobile advertising revolution right alongside Twitter, Google (GOOG) and Pandora (P). It provides companies and brands with a fair and effective advertising platform.

However, if this considerable screw-up is a sign of things to come, it might time for Zuckerberg to consider stepping into a "Chief Strategy Officer" role and bring in a CEO with the chops to hunker down and home in on what matters.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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