May 19, 2012
I’ve been wanting to talk about the Facebook IPO for a while. If you believe me, I really wanted to predict that it would be that underwhelming, but was totally scared about being wrong like everyone.
Here’s what I think is happening: Investors these days have a more mature sense about the things that are actually valuable to an economy, and they are starting to worry about how much value Facebook will ever be able to derive from its community. With serious underemployment problems across much of the developed world, most of the activity on a place like Facebook consists of idle chatter or practical logistics, and the heaviest users tend to be the people with the most downtime. Many of these people will not be able to spend very much money on arbitrary advertised goods, even if the ads are perfectly targeted. Investors know that.
The value of Facebook is determined by the value of the information that is shared on Facebook, just like the value of every web property is determined by its content. The content on Facebook is our lives. This IPO is such a grand referendum on America precisely because Facebook is the social tool that we tinker around with in our idle time, and so Facebook is only proportionally as valuable as us, in a certain sense.
What I’m saying is that if you want Facebook stock to take off, Mark Zuckerberg to get everything he ever wanted, and the economy to recover, there is only one thing you can really do:
Make a lot of money using Facebook.