The decline and fall of the Zuckerberg empire

Beset by stagnant growth, low employee morale, plummeting stock, public outrage, and a bipartisan group of enemies in government, the old Facebook, the ever-expanding, government-ignoring, world-conquering company of only a year or two ago, is gone.

Its own internal surveys bear this out: Facebook was once legendary for the cultish dedication of its employees — reporting on the company was nearly impossible because workers refused to leak — but employee confidence in Facebook’s future, as judged by internal surveys reported on by the Journal, is down 32 percentage points over the past year, to 52 percent. Around the same number of Facebook employees think the company is making the world a better place, down 19 points from this time last year, and employees report that they plan to leave Facebook for new jobs earlier than they had in the past. Scarier even for Facebook is the possibility, for which there is some anecdotal evidence, that it’s no longer a sought-after employer for top computer-science and engineering graduates.

There’s already ample evidence that Facebook is losing its hold on users. In the markets where Facebook is most profitable, its user base is either stagnant, as in North America, or actually shrinking, as in Europe. The company might be able to reassure itself that Instagram — which it wholly owns — is still expanding impressively, but the success of Instagram hasn’t stopped Facebook from getting punished on the stock market.

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