As Covid19 roars in New York City, more and more entrepreneurs head out to the woods to practice self-isolation and social distancing. This weekend, I’ve turned 39 and with all the international travel suspended, I was left with a choice of going locally to the camping resort Getaway. It is only 120 miles away from NYC and offers a great blend of luxury and a camping experience.
With no wifi and electronics nearby, the resort offered a unique opportunity to re-discover myself and read more books – something we all stopped to do in the era of YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. And the book of choice for me was “The Facebook Effect” by D. Kirkpatrik in which, he described in great detail the actual development and growth of student social network: Thefacebook.
The big takeaway from the book is the fact that if you want to build something global and sustainable, you need to think on the long term. That’s the advice Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezon and Mark Zuckerberg himself adhere to. When faced with tempting choice to sell his company for several billion dollars cash, Zuck resisted it and focused on the long term growth. Should he sold his internet baby to a rich mogul, he would be rich, but not that rich as he is today.
At the same time, there were lots of uncertain moments on that journey. First, when the social network branched out from Harvard to other Ivy League colleges. Then, it was a moment of expanding to lesser know schools losing its coolness factor and elitist title. Should he listened to Winkelvoss brothers, he would shut it down under the lawsuit, or should he not stuck with the updated News Feed, the website wouldn’t be as useful as it is today thanks to Twitter’s pressure.
But the greatest moment of growth for Zuck was the expansion of Facebook.com into 75 languages in 2008. First, they toyed with Spanish version carefully translating it with help of Spanish speaking enthusiasts. Then, it was a German version. The result was encouraging and the translation continued. It wasn’t quick and easy, but the long term focus on localization and global expansion is now evident. It helped Facebook to successfully defeat other social networks that popped up globally: Orkut, MySpace, Google Plus, Bebo and so on. People are lazy to sign up to multiple networks, so the winner takes it all.
Armed with this long term vision, I am going to focus on 75 language expansion in 2020 as well. Our powerful website translation technology ConveyThis which greatly reduces time to market and overall costs. I think it is possible even during the lockdown and most of the employees working from home would be able to contribute.
The world is a diverse and a powerful place. If your website speaks in 75 languages, it means it sells to 98% of overall Internet population. That’s a great distribution only top companies could imagine. But if your product is SaaS and technically everyone could be your customer, why would you hesitate and wait longer?
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