2018 was a difficult year for tech companies. From the fallout Facebook faced in the Cambridge Analytical disaster to Elon Musk’s social media faux pas and beyond, many technology companies will be happy to have last year in their review mirror.
As entrepreneurs, what can you learn from some of the biggest scandals that happened in tech? Keep reading to find out more.
1. Own Your Mistakes
Mistakes are going to happen, there’s no way around it. You’ll only make matters worse if you try and hide it. Consider a few of Google’s 2018 troubles. The search giant came under major fire after it was revealed that it had contracted with the Chinese government to build a censored search engine, conjuring up many complaints regarding transparency and freedom of information on the Internet. This might be bad enough, but in this same year, Google had to come clean about a data breach that affected over half of a million of its users and, before revealing this beach, that Google had attempted to hide it from the public.
Neither of these mistakes is going to topple this tech behemoth, but the lack of transparency and the lack of owning a mistake has no doubt hurt Google’s credibility and reputation. Like the other scandals in the past year, this could have been avoided. In the instance of the security breach, it would have been better for Google to have acted quickly and owned the mistake from the outset. People are generally more willing to forgive that kind of honest effort to make things right. If you’ve made a mistake and you think you can get away with it by keeping it secret, consider the ramifications of what might happen if it gets out.
2. Act with Integrity
Warren Buffet, one of the most successful business people ever, named three essential qualities he looks for in an employee: energy, intelligence and integrity. These three qualities apply equally to entrepreneurs, and as Uber discovered in 2018, acting without integrity can cause significant pain.
The context: Uber was sued by Waymo over Uber’s alleged theft of trade secrets related to self-driving auto technology. The thrust of the case centered on a former Google employee who left Google and brought the intellectual property to Uber. The case never went to trial, but ultimately, Uber settled for a whopping $245M in equity.
While a settlement isn’t by itself an admission of wrongdoing, there was clearly some culpability anticipated if the case had proceeded to trial. Here is yet another example of a situation that could have been avoided at the onset had the employee acted with integrity and not attempted to profit on something he did not own outright.
3 Stay True to Your Roots
Success can be one of the sweetest things you’ll ever taste, but it can be dangerous. Look no further than the current state of Facebook for guidance on this matter.
When Mark Zuckerberg formed Facebook in 2004, the platform was essentially a socialized version of the phone book.
Users could create profiles, connect with other users and share information about their lives. Even today, Facebook still lists “Build Social Value” as one of its Core Values.
But In 2018, the social media company announced that a data firm called Cambridge Analytical had harvested user data of over 50 million of its users and that data had been used by the firm in an effort to sway the 2016 election. Mark Zukerberg would find himself in a tense multi-day session of questioning by Congress on how and why this happened. At least one of the reasons is that Facebook had forgotten the roots of its success: its users and, more importantly, its users trust In the platform.
Whether you find yourself on a growth trajectory of success or you are still struggling to find your way, remember to stay true to who you are and what you represent.
As you consider some of the biggest scandals that happened to major tech companies in 2018, think back on how last year went for you and examine your own mistakes. Chances are good that you did not face public outcry against your company or a muti-milllon dollar judgement. but each of these instances can provide you with information on how to improve yourself and your business.