10.14.07 - 10:24am
Facebook and myself have had a very troubled past. If I could have a Relationship Status with Facebook it’s be listed under “It’s Complicated”. There have been times when I have been incredibly involved with Facebook, feeding it every little tidbit of my life, and then there are the times were I just feel lonely as if Facebook is neglecting me. It is during these times of bruised feelings and confused emotions that I ponder the future of our relationship, does Facebook really care about me or does it have higher aspirations in mind? Can Facebook provide for itself in the future or am I going to have to bring home the bacon in this relationship? Is Facebook sleeping around with other people? All these questions and doubts can really make a man wonder, has Facebook already hit it’s prime? Should I move on to one of it’s younger and cuter cousins?
With the sale of Myspace to News Corp in 2006 for roughly $500 million, all eyes turned to Mark Zuckerberg to see if Facebook would follow suite and sellout. It’s been confirmed that Zuckerberg has attended a few meetings with companies offering roughly $1 billion outright for Facebook yet he has stuck to his guns and kept Facebook private. Scoble discussed the market value of Facebook by comparing it with the rise of Google and how it has achieved it’s ~$200 billion market value. At the end of his article Scoble states that Zuckerberg should snap up any offers that value Facebook at $15 billion as Facebook may have hit it’s peak.
This concept of peaking will have profound implications on the eventual full or partial sale of Facebook. Originally Facebook was a private network that targeted college students and did it well. Facebook, which directly competed with Myspace, offered a standardized interface that was very much uncluttered. This standardization was a huge feature for Facebook, unlike Myspace which can be downright painful to view depending on how cluttered a Myspace profile is.
The same draw that has made Facebook so useful for college students doesn’t extend very well to professional networking, which is another direction that Facebook is heading in. Speculation by Michael Arrington hints that Facebook may attempt to implement a professional relationship status listed as “Networking”. The key issue will be the parting out of profiles in a professional relationship versus your typical Facebook friends. You surely don’t want your professional contacts reading your semi-private profile that you share with your closer friends. At the same time I really don’t know if it’s a bright idea opening up Facebook to professional networking. The information held in profiles could make a Monster.com service in Facebook incredibly powerful but is Facebook the right platform to do this through?
Facebook’s value comes primarily through it’s database of users. Facebook has no direct way to capitalize upon this data, it’s only through the sales of this data and the corresponding advertisements that Facebook has a potential future. Are they worth $15 billion? Perhaps but not at this time but possibly in the future if they continue to expand their target audience. The greatest question though is whether or not Facebook is just a fad of this decade or a powerhouse that will exist for years to come. It’s hard to value popularity though so far all I know Facebook could launch a new feature and double it’s population in 6 months but I doubt it. Frankly, I doubt Facebook will grow much bigger than it is now in regards to traffic. There simply is too much competition brewing in the depths and with the volatile nature of social networks we could see the rise of a better network in a years time. I’d say it’s time to snap up an offer while you have the limelight rather than scramble to sell a fading platform in the future.