$$FB$$ Has Arrived: So Now What?
Facebook, the 900-million-strong social network that knows more about us than even our closest friends, will become a publicly traded company within the next hour.
Private equity dealmakers will celebrate alongside cadres of newly minted millionaire engineers in Menlo Park, Calif., while retail investors the world around will clamor amongst themselves, tooth and claw, for the chance to share in a mere fraction of the riches.
And yet, after a year of watching tech IPOs — Zynga, Groupon, LinkedIn, Yelp — let’s all admit that it kind of borders on anticlimactic.
We know we’ll most likely see a nice pop in the share price after Mark Zuckerberg rings in the Nasdaq bell remotely from Facebook’s spanking-new HQ in Silicon Valley.
From there, like a floating jump ball up for grabs, the social networking giant’s closing stock price is anyone’s guess — and by the looks of my Twitter feed, everyone’s guess. There’s already a site dedicated to tracking what price Facebook’s stock will settle at when the markets close, a page peppered with numbers posited by the digital elite.
Today is about the money. And yet it is also more than just sitting and watching the ticker tape roll by. For the first time, Zuckerberg’s vision of making the world a more open place will finally apply to his own company.
We got our first taste of it when the company filed its S-1. It’s where we saw that more than half of Facebook’s 900 million monthly visitors are visiting the site via mobile devices, a channel in which the company has yet to figure out a coherent or viable monetization strategy.
We saw that Zuckerberg retains a tight grip on the company’s future — tighter than most CEOs, akin to the likes of Google’s co-founders — holding voting rights on 57.1 percent of Facebook’s mighty class-B shares. He is so tied to his company that he is cited as a risk factor in Facebook’s S-1, of course.
And now we’re witnessing the first defectors from Facebook’s nacent advertising strategy, as with General Motors pulling its $10 million dollars in advertising on Facebook earlier this week, citing it as an ineffective use of the company’s massive marketing budget.
What we’ll soon see is Facebook’s less-pretty public profile, so to speak, with Zuckerberg holding court over earnings calls every quarter, taking heat from investors who expect returns. We’ll be given insight into how the company plans to monetize its different products, and how they actually fare.
Just as Facebook knows so very much about each of us, we, too, will begin to learn a lot more about Facebook.
And yet, through all of this, no matter what grim forecast Wall Street projects, no matter what executive decisions or company road maps the media decries, Zuckerberg’s message is clear — so much so that he made it the poster for the pre-IPO all-night hackathon:
“Stay focused and keep hacking.”
Good luck with that.
(Images: (top) Morin Uwole/Facebook; (bottom) Victor Luu/Facebook)