4 Individuals that changed the future of business.
Challenges: The biggest challenge Mark Zuckerberg currently faces is keeping up with the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon in the augmented reality space. Moreover, it will also be interesting to see how Facebook sustains its fast-paced growth. It is in a strong position currently and will look to new avenues (such as video) to continue its momentum. Finally, as the fake news controversy dies down, there is still much work left to do for Facebook to remedy this problem. The good news is that the company is taking on the challenge seriously – it revealed a detailed four-step plan to reassure its users.
Milestones: Facebook has introduced some interesting features. Its Instant Articles, for instance, has worked significantly well. Its users have also been highly receptive of its Facebook Live and Instagram Stories. To look at growth purely in terms of numbers, Facebook has grown in value by US$ 92 billion to US$ 424 billion this year.
Next big move: It’s no secret that Facebook is eyeing expansion into the augmented reality space and Zuckerberg is pinning his future on its progress. At Facebook’s F8 conference, he unveiled the Facebook Camera Effects Platform, which takes a leap in that direction. Another interesting announcement was his idea of Facebook glasses that can project virtual objects on a blank space.
Challenges: With SpaceX, Musk is trying to send humans to other planets. His biggest challenge is to continue the mission while ensuring safety and viability. In September 2016, one of the rockets caught fire during fuelling and left the company figuring out what went wrong. Meanwhile at Tesla Motors, Musk will need to find a way to meet the increasing demand for his electric cars and streamline production.
Milestones: History of the automobile industry was rewritten when Tesla officially overtook General Motors in April this year to become the US car marker with the largest market capitalisation. If that isn’t a milestone, what is?
Next big move: Elon Musk has always been unpredictable and full of surprises, so it’s hard to say what his ‘next big thing’ will be. But one of his most startling advances has been the introduction of car tunnels. He recently revealed that one of his ventures, The Boring Company, is working on creating underground tunnels for cars to travel, beating traffic. Work has already started at this SpaceX office parking lot! How will the technology work? And more importantly, how will this fit into the current regulatory frameworks? Well, it’s something we will have to wait and find out.
Amazon – Jeff Bezos
Challenges: Amazon’s biggest challenge is its digital assistant Alexa. The market is flooded with rival concepts and most competitors have introduced their take of what it should look like. As competition intensifies, Amazon will need to ensure that its continually evolving Alexa and improving the user experience.
Milestones: If we had to describe Jeff Bezos – the man at the helm of one of the world’s fastest-growing business – in two words, they would be: bold and audacious. Amazon’s promise is to transform the way the world shops and it is leaving no stone unturned to achieve this goal. The company’s biggest strength has been its ability to constantly innovate and surprise people. Amazon’s most recent surprise has been Prime Wardrobe, which ships any 20 items of clothes, shoes or accessories to customers for them to try and return those that they don’t want.
Next big move: With Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods for US$ 13.7 billion, all eyes are on how the e-commerce giant will revamp grocery shopping. Although its plan to revamp the future of grocery stores isn’t fully clear, it did drop a hint last year when it unveiled the concept of Amazon Go. It remains to be seen how it implements the concept.
Uber – Travis Kalanick
Challenges: It is safe to say that this year has been quite challenging for Uber. The culture crisis has been it’s biggest hurdle till date, costing it a fortune (and it’s CEO). The company started 2017 fighting several allegations and a lawsuit – all of which detracted it from its sole purpose of innovating the transportation industry as we know it.
Milestones: Earlier in 2016, Uber was on track to achieving its mission of upending the global taxi industry. Prolific investors from all over the world were rushing to get behind Kalanick’s vision. At one point, things were looking extremely good as Uber was said to have been the most valuable start-up in the world.
Next big move: The burning question on everyone’s mind is: who will take the reins of the company next? Uber’s future depends on how quickly its new leader can turn things around and give it a new cultural identity. A herculean task indeed, given that most of the company’s senior management has stepped down. Until then, Uber continues to face its biggest existential crisis ever.