Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian says that from here on out Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) fortunes are destined to become less tied to its own social media platform and more to its successors, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Calling the current moment “peak social,” entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ohanian argues that the niche communities already sprouting by the dozens are the future of social media, where users can connect through a particular theme or personal interest.
“I think if you look at platforms like Facebook under the surface, the groups product is one of those areas where social is headed, which is to say that people are going to retreat from this idea of following individuals and instead look for platforms and communities to be a part of, as well,” says Ohanian, in conversation with Cheddar recently.
“You can look at Telegram and Discord as two popular examples,” he says. “Obviously, Reddit predated a lot of this stuff. But these platforms are all pretty ubiquitous in their design — expect to see more that are specific to the community.”
Even as Facebook continues its growth internationally, the company’s brand has taken a number of hits this year, from election interference scandals to privacy concerns, with the fallout reflected in declining user numbers in established territories and a lack of penetration among younger demographics.
In its last earnings report, FB couldn’t meet analysts’ expectations both for revenue and daily active users, the latter of which was tabulated as 1.49 billion versus the consensus estimate of 1.51 billion.
Ohanian says that the company may do alright, if only because of Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Thinking about what WhatsApp is going to be in the years to come, that’s one more example of a community platform that people are going to retreat to because they have their chat rooms, they have their groups. Instagram obviously still has a tonne of growth left to it,” he says. “While Facebook the platform itself is mired in a lot, Instagram and WhatsApp will no doubt grow.”
“There is a move now because social has become a bit tired and we can only really follow our echo chambers,” he says. “I think there’s more of a movement out of finding real community and of being surprised.”