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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a virtual developer conference in June. Photo by Bloomberg

Facebook’s Rebranding Is About Tim Cook, Not Whistleblowers

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a virtual developer conference in June. Photo by Bloomberg

Next week is going to be a big one for Facebook. There will be a corporate rebrand from the company of some sort, a very high-stakes earnings report, and Facebook’s biggest event of the year, its Connect developer conference, featuring a keynote from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Oh, and a storm of a document dump that will be fairly unprecedented in corporate history, as Sylvia and Mark reported today (some of those stories began appearing this evening). 

Amid all the coverage of those events, you are likely to read one name again and again: Frances Haugen, the former employee who leaked a trove of documents to The Wall Street Journal, kicking off the latest in a decade-plus run of public relations crises for the company. Since news of the corporate rebrand broke, the media has been quick to see it as a reaction to the firestorm Haugen touched off—and the years of crises before that. 

I don’t know much about rebranding a company. But I did report on Google’s metamorphosis into Alphabet, and that took months, not weeks, of planning. As a CEO, I would be more likely to slam the brakes on a major rebrand in the middle of a crisis than I would be to assume such a change would solve that crisis. 

And so I strongly urge you to think not of Haugen, but of a different name when you’re trying to make sense of the big changes to come: Tim Cook. Because the Apple CEO is the real target of the rebrand. Let me explain. 

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