Entries in strategy (1)

Friday
May182012

Facebook will know the future before you can Tweet it

What were you doing last night?  Mark Zuckerberg had a hackathon.  Oh yeah, and today his company went public.

I have been thinking about valuation of Facebook all week, and i think whatever the offering price is, it's wrong, and the GM announcement just made things worse by focusing on revenue in the Millions.  The valuation should not be  based on revenue.

Instead we are looking at the premiere testing ground for defining social expereiences and ad products across multiple channels based on the behavior and reactions of real users.  The future is clearly coming, where recommendations and votes of confidence from friends will be louder than advertising.  With the end of broadcast, and even the end of web portals,  attention is a strategic asset.  And Facebook has a boatload of attention, because we are addicted to news about other people.  

This need to gossip, and the need to share, is a basic human need- It's Brain Candy, according to Harvard researchers.

To be cute about my hypothesis:  Facebook will know the future, ship an awesome product and move on,  before you can Tweet it. 

Facebook is in a dominant market position to be able to take the attention people spend on the platform, across devices and all over the social web, to find out what works before any of their competitors, and with enough scale to stay ahead.  As long as they do not piss off users (the product being sold to advertisers) then the business is incredibly valuable.  I don't really know how to value it, but you must imagine some of these platforms competing with each other, and almost no one can compete with Facebook in this regard. 
It comparatively easy to build a behavior network to scale, but people are growing tired of joining new identity networks - they already have Facebook, or Linkedin, or Google,  and it is so easy to get traction by just riding over the top of that; consumers will begin to expect it.  Such a strategic advantage is incredibly valuable, and suggests that Facebook might even have a business when many of these other platforms just get boring.  Facebook will be the social layer people use - and that could echo for a decade or more.

Facebook keeps saying they are not trying to be a great company, they are trying to make a great product, and while the effects are similar the emphasis contained therein produces really remarkable results.  So don't worry about getting the valuation right, because they are going to ship a lot of code before anyone figures out the generational shift in behavior and advertising we're in, but I think Facebook might be the company that gets there first.
Facebook stock closed barely above the offer price - find me someone at Facebook who really cares about that, instead of shipping  a great product.  Their strategy? Culture as strategy.  Facebook tries to get people to enjoy but not flaunt their wealth and these norms suggest that inside Facebook is brewing...the next Facebook.