A major focus of discussion recently has been about the value of Facebook. This is kind of obvious as they have an ongoing Initial Public Offering, where the company is selling shares to the public based on an estimated value of around one hundred billion dollars.
The first question is whether the company is worth the money? But then again value is just what the market thinks its worth so its basically a consensual hallucination, which is fine if you share it and odd if you don’t. But the more interesting issue is what the value is after the shares have all been sold. This is still part hallucination but it’s also about performance and this is where it gets interesting. Techcrunch has an interesting article with shiny figures and tables but what makes me think is these quotes:
In terms of Facebook’s overall ad pitch, the company’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that the company’s long-term goal is to be the place where 70 million businesses worldwide go to offer personalized, relevant advertising…She said, “Every day on Facebook is like the season finale of American Idol times two,” in a reference to the home page
The company really needs to sell to advertisers that they are One place, One market with access to billions – this follows the usual rhetoric of “if Facebook were a country”. But the problem with this is that we are not on Facebook for Facebook, we are there for the content. Facebook knows this and tailors the experience for the user. But with this tailoring there is really no Facebook, at least no one version of Facebook. And if there is no one version then the comment that its like the final season of American Idol is pointless. Facebook may be the box, the television we are all staring at – but we are looking at different channels.
The problem is that this makes Facebook less trendy. It turns it into an infrastructure, nobody wants to invest in infrastructure, its too untrendy. That’s why Facebook insists on talking about itself as ONE place were 800 million people meet.