OK, the headline is mine -- because I know $500B will travel well in Facebook (and Twitter).
I originally published this in February 2012. Today (May 18, 2012) Facebook had the IPO.
Anyway you look at it, Facebook IPO is a major success for the firm. I wish them the best.
You ask why $500B? In short, because Facebook is the 21st century operating system -- not a computer operating system -- Facebook is an economical operating system. Why? because it has successfully integrated the power of 3Cs: Community , Creation and Commerce.
Let me explain:
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a friend in Facebook. It was still their old office located at one of the Stanford corners. It was a regular visit: tour the open space, drink black Coffee, or Coke, or whatever, stroll the grounds, See Mark's desk and take the above wall picture. The inside of Facebook looks a bit different. But nothing too extravagant.
So what is Facebook? And why is this important? People used to be scared of IBM, then Microsoft, then Google, and now Facebook. (By the way -- all of these are doing just fine).
The Wall Street Journal says:
Facebook Inc. filed for an initial public offering Wednesday that could value the social network between $75 billion and $100 billion, putting the company on track for one of the biggest U.S. stock-market debuts of all time.
The company hopes to raise as much as $10 billion when it begins selling shares this spring, said people familiar with the matter. Potential buyers got their first look at its financials Wednesday, which showed the company produced a $1 billion profit last year from $3.71 billion in revenues. The company derives 85% of those revenues from advertising, with the rest from social gaming and other fees.Facebook is a major change. Much like Google at the time, the right combination of technology, social need, management and flow of funds allowed them to capture the majority of the market. There were many before them (good old MySpace, or Hevre in Israel), there were and will be many after them (Google's Orkut> Buzz > Plus, or Shawn Fanning's Path check it).
But in 2012 Facebook is just starting.
For the skeptics:
- Starting from my wife who does not have a Facebook page,
- to some of my MBA students ("Facebook is just a social thing"),
- to the Israeli department of Education (with an amazing wrong policy on Facebook "an educator will not initiate any link or respond to a friend's request" see in Hebrew),
- to some CIOs (CMOs or CEOs) who still do not have Facebook,
- to some of my colleagues at the Israeli Internet Association (now it is my problem since I became the president),
- and, for that matter, to some of my Venture Capital friends who do not grasp the change.
Simply put, Facebook is a new operating system. Not an information operating system. It is a social/economical operating system. Why? Because Facebook has integrated the following factors
- Creation -- power to build, show, generate, share.
- Community -- it has the people, the links (the Social Graph ala Facebook), the controls.
- Commerce -- with Facebook credit -- Facebook can (does and will) facilitate commerce.
This is the first time we have an operating system that integrates these 3C factors seemingly.
"Integration" is the big jump. It is much easier for me to publish things in Facebook. In fact, I started to write this post in Facebook (only moved back to blog because of my Chinese friends). It is super easy to communicate (I do not need to remember nor update emails -- goodbye Plaxo), it will be easier to get people to conferences (goodbye meet up, or Eventbrite which I like), it is easier to chat and voice (almost goodbye Skype). And, Facebook has the Apple closed garden protection for most users.
Of course there are dangers, as with any new technology, and there will be even more checks and balances (Facebook want them, we want them). I'm sure our good old boys and girls are on top of it (see Why The FBI Wants To Look At Your Social Media Updates.
So, let's get ready to another ride using this new operating system.
P.S1. For many cool facts about Facebook see http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/02/my-favorite-statistics-and-sentences-from-facebooks-big-ipo/252400/
P.S2. Yes, there are problems -- but we have to deal with them (found it on Facebook, with no attribution to copyrights).
P.S3. from Business Insider (a very good source) one can see how the Commerce side is picking up.
(see red in chart).