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Facebook, what Facebook?

April 18, 2009


The problem with being right too early is that you pass for a idiot.

Ah, the insufferable conversations with the geeks and new gurus about the net worth of Facebook. I almost long for that time machine I invented when I was eight so I could re-live the stupidity of it all and at least have a giggle this time around.

I published a post called Air on this blog on July the 10th, 2008.

Here are the juiciest bits for those who define too difficult as moving a cursor and clicking:

Here’s my take…the internet contains a wealth of information with billions of people clicking around on it and a handful of balding knuckleheads who are trying to predict what slack jawed twenty year olds are going to want to click on next. The Generation Y kids have no notion of loyalty (nor should they and if you think this is bad what until you see the generation coming up behind them) so anything which looks cool will be clicked on, tried out, explored, understood then like the amorphous mass of lemmings they are they will move away just as mysteriously as they arrived.

The knuckleheads who ran around looking for investment capital to wangle a few ex-Google people to build the sites and who came up with meaty business plans are left scratching their heads as to why they now feel slightly older and a lot poorer than before.

So what’s missing? I’ll tell you – money.
No one really knows how to make money out of these waves of popularity so no one knows if they are working in the right direction or if they are wasting their time. Facebook is the most obvious and unfortunate case. The estimated net worth of Facebook was cried out at billions of dollars. “As much as 15 billion dollars!” the headlines told us. This figure was based on a number of factors which add up to thin air in the end and I would love to see the estimated net worth of Facebook in three years time. What is interesting is Facebook had access to a whole bunch of people who were blathering on like good little evangelists about how great it was and no one was spending any money and no one was making any money. So what do they do? They start cumulating personal details in an effort to do things which may turn into sustainable income which, of course rubbed everyone the wrong way and they have nosedived ever since.

The internet is air like a service is air. If your business plan doesn’t have an understandable way of generating money from these services then do something else. If part of your business plan is to be wildly popular then so be it, but if you are wildly popular with non paying, non sustainable clients then keep on digging.

Now this article from Le Figaro jumps out at me today:

La valorisation de Facebook divisée par quatre

Valorisé 15 milliards de dollars il y a deux ans, Facebook ne pèserait plus que 4 milliards.

Le jeune patron de Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, cherche de l’argent frais. Selon plusieurs blogs d’information, le jeune millionnaire et son conseil d’administration auraient reçu ces derniers jours des offres de fonds d’investissement qui valoriseraient Facebook à deux et à quatre milliards de dollars seulement. Mais le président de Facebook aurait décliné ces propositions jugées insuffisantes.

Car on est très loin des 15 milliards de dollars que pesait le site de socialisation, lorsqu’en octobre 2007, Microsoft avait versé 240 millions de dollars pour s’offrir seulement 1,6 % du capital.

En deux ans, la valeur de Facebook a fondu malgré un succès grandissant après des internautes du monde entier. La vedette de la Toile enregistre des records d’audience : selon le cabinet ComScore, le site caracole au sixième rang des sites Internet dans le monde avec 275 millions de visiteurs en février, dont 100 millions rien qu’en Europe. Près du tiers du temps que les internautes européens passent sur des sites de socialisation est consacré à Facebook, selon ComScore.

If you can’t read French then…Wired asks the question – Facebook is Worth … What Exactly?

All we might actually know is that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the board met yesterday, if that. But at least three news outlets are reporting that the social network rejected a cash infusion from private equity firms that would have valued it at $4 billion or $2 billion, and that the company sees itself as something more like $5 billion material.

Take your pick, but either of those admittedly heady numbers are a far cry from the $15 billion valuation implied by Microsoft’s $240 million investment for a 1.6% stake in October 2007, a month before the U.S. recession began but a year before it started devaluing everything from real stuff like houses and cars to … other things, like popular web 2.0 startups.

Yeah, well I may be just a schmuck
with a consultancy business in France but if you can’t separate the shit from the shinola pretty soon 15 billion becomes 4 which before you know it becomes nothing at all. Facebook feels like it’s going the way of last seasons yoyos and finally I might be able to forget about the time I’ve pissed away in pretend conversations with starry-eyed geeks belittling my refusal to blindly embrace their new revolutions.

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