Posts Tagged ‘mark zuckerberg’

Is There No Stopping the Facebook Juggernaut?

For anyone who was still uncertain about Facebook’s continued dominance, the company’s fourth-quarter results made it clear the king is still king.

As Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary, fourth-quarter profits jumped 700% while the total number of users climbed 1.25 billion.

As, if not more, impressive was more than 40% of Facebook’s advertising revenue came from mobile. It was that not long ago that many people were wondering whether mobile would fail to deliver the financial muscle required by Facebook to maintain its lofty valuation.

Instead, Facebook rumbles along, brushing aside suggestions teenagers are losing interest and a controversial Princeton University report suggesting it will lose 80% of its users by 2017.

The question that must be asked is how does Facebook maintain its mojo?

One of the key considerations is Facebook’s relentless drive to continually change. Whether it’s the news feed, search or pages, Facebook switches directions and gears. Often, these changes are a surprise and not well-received by users but Facebook charges forward.

Perhaps this reflects the hyper-kinetic personality of its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, or maybe change is a necessary evil in the fickle world of social media. Any social media that stays the same for too long risks getting stale and uninteresting, giving rivals an opportunity to steal people away.

Whether or not you enjoy Facebook, it has become a digital necessity. Much the same way pretty much everyone has an email account, most people have Facebook accounts, if only to have a presence in the digital world. Many people may have little need for Facebook but they’re probably users nonetheless.

While the enormous number of users is impressive, what’s even more astounding is how Facebook has turned into a money-making machine. Say what you will about how people may ignore the ads, Facebook is clearly an attractive advertising option for advertisers.

The leap from popular and free social network into a financial juggernaut should be the envy of anyone within the digital world.

What’s next for Facebook? Is there still more room for growth or does its growth appear capped?

Either way, there is little doubt Facebook will remain a fascinating story for the next few years.

Dismiss Facebook at Your Own Risk

FacebookThere are many things about Facebook that are polarizing but it also surprises me when people are outright dismissive of its business or future.

Case in point is a radio interview I heard on the weekend in which Vivek Wadhwa, Vice President of Academics and Innovation at Singularity University, suggested Facebook’s IPO over 75% over-valued, it wasn’t an innovative company, and it could disappear in three years.

I realize people are down on Facebook given the post-IPO performance of the stock but, frankly, it’s far too easy to jump on the anti-Facebook bandwagon.

Facebook’s business is far from perfect, Mark Zuckerberg will never be warmly embraced by the tech crowd and the stock has been a disaster, but it doesn’t mean Facebook hasn’t been innovative or it’s going to disappear any time soon.

Putting aside Facebook’s ability to attract more than one billion users, one of the most impressive things about the service is how the platform has continued to evolve and expand. If there’s anything Facebook isn’t afraid to do, it’s innovate – even it means taking two steps forward and one step back.

This willingness to keep pushing forward may be frustrating to some but it’s one of the reasons why Facebook has stayed relevant, maintained its user growth, and, as important, repelled any competitors, including Google+.

While strong growth will be a challenge to Facebook, it isn’t going away or even showing signs of erosion. Sure, some people may be suffering from Facebook fatigue but there’s more than enough users who are enthusiastic and engaged about how it can connect family, friends and, sometimes, brands.

Anyone who suggests Facebook is going to disappear is trying too hard to capture the spotlight.

If Facebook deserves criticism, it will be focused on how well it can grow and evolve as a business. While wireless was seen as a weakness, there are indications this may not be the case as advertisers seem to be leverage Facebook’s large mobile footprint.

While this is a positive sign for Facebook, the realities of being a publicly-traded company mean it must continue to drive sales and profit growth. If not, Wall St. will be disappointed, and Facebook will be penalized for under-performing.

If you’re a Facebook critic, it is important to criticize based on marketing and economic realities, rather than making assertions that are difficult to swallow.

What Went Wrong with the Facebook IPO?

After an 11% initial drop, the Facebook stock has plummeted another 7%, even as news of Mark Zuckerberg’s marriage made headline news. What is going on with Nasdaq and at Facebook headquarters?

Putting the possible PR stunt of the Zuckerberg marriage aside, this is pretty shocking news for the once golden IPO. Maybe, it is simply a sign the equity markets are not strong, posting some of its worst moments this past week.

Perhaps the sharp decline in Facebook shares is due to the company’s underwriters lowering their estimates during the IPO roadshow.

The thing I can’t wrap my head around there a lot of things to like about Facebook, the company. Did it simply price the IPO too sky, leaving little room for the early bump most new offerings experience?

Trading glitches at Nasdaq, an European economy in turmoil and many investors sitting on their money hasn’t helped the situation for Facebook.

Maybe the people those who created the IPO got swept in the same hysteria that the media did. Maybe Facebook and its underwriters were greedy. Or maybe people don’t trust a social network going public to reap long-term dividends. Or maybe there is no demand for the supply.

It seems there are more questions than answers at this point, along with a lot of frustration. A week ago, $38 to own a share of Facebook didn’t seem unreasonable, didn’t it?

Right now, what was once hailed as a definite and forthcoming watershed moment for social media and the IPO market is causing investors a lot of heartache, and generating more questions than answers.

This might be one story to watch all summer long.

Facebook’s Challenging, New Post-IPO World

facebook IPOFor the past eight years, Facebook has been the master of its domain.

Led by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has created its own rules of engagement, shrugged off a series of strategic and tactical mistakes, and, in the process, attracted more than 900 million users.

Despite Facebook’s success and status as the world’s largest and, arguably, most powerful social network, there are dark clouds on the horizon as it prepares for a much-anticipated IPO.

With Facebook having to disclose its financial results, there are a growing number of analysts and investors scrutinizing the books to get a better handle on Facebook the business as opposed to Facebook the social network behemoth.

What they’re discovering is cracks in the armour. While Facebook continues to add more users, the business is not firing on all cylinders. First-quarter revenue was flat compared with the fourth-quarter, and there are growing concerns Facebook is having a difficult time monetizing its mobile operations.

There are also more focus on Zuckerberg, and whether he has the chops to be the CEO of a $4-billion business with a market cap of close to $100-billion. Unlike many young entrepreneurs who give up the reins to a more experienced executive, Zuckerberg has stuck around as the top gun, while maintaining his controlling stake.

As well, Facebook’s IPO roadshow is not going smoothly. According to The Next Web, Facebook shelved a 30-minute promotional video during a stop in Boston after it had been panned at a presentation in New York. Even more significant is that Zuckerberg was a no-show in Boston, leaving COO Sheryl Sandberg to meet with analysts and investors.

In many respects, it would be easy to suggest the good times are over for Facebook. As a publicly-traded company, every single move will be examined, poked and analyzed. It means Facebook will no longer by Zuckerberg’s personal sandbox because if he makes any mistakes, the stock could be savaged by fickle investors.

At the same time, Facebook will be under increasing pressure to maintain its financial growth. While more subscribers is obviously a positive thing, investors and analysts want to see higher revenue and profits. It explains why Facebook is scrambling to figure out how to better monetize its mobile operations, which included the staggering $1-billion purchase of Instagram.

As a publicly-traded company, it’s a whole new world for Facebook with new challenges and sky-high expectations. While the company has been a social media superstar, its success will be judged in an entirely new way.


Will Facebook Go Public?

After LinkedIn’s initial public offering stole headlines earlier this year, highlighted by a spike during first-day trading, it was clear that more social networks would entertain the idea of doing an IPO as well.

Among the most obvious if-not-when candidates is Facebook, which would reap all kinds of benefits beyond raising hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, making the stock more liquid and providing a clearer view about Facebook’s value.

There is obviously palpable excitement among Facebook employees, especially those who have been there the past three to four years, who own real stock options in the near future.

With Facebook having to comply with federal regulations and disclose their financials, it now makes going public an easier pill to swallow.

For the past year, many pundits have debated whether it was made sense for Facebook to go public. One of the main issues is will a wave of inflated IPOs force the bubble to blow too big; stirring fear of an inevitable burst.

This fear is overstated because it’s mostly based on leftover fear from the first dot-com bubble bursting. Putting this aside, there is another factor this issue that could prove to be significant.

A major and intriguing reason that an IPO could be a positive for Facebook is it will force the company to either groom Mark Zuckerberg to be a real executive, or force them to find one, or possibly promote COO Sheryl Steinberg to CEO.

Zuckerberg is a programming genius but as a CEO of a publicly-owned company he would have to open up, become more media friendly and savvy, and alter his personality. Steve Jobs might have been hard-headed, emotional and difficult but he had enough charisma for 100 executives.

Zuckerberg belongs more in the trenches than perched at the top. Even though he has proclaimed he is the CEO, his social skills might prove distasteful if he had to answer to shareholders on a regular basis.

As always, Zuckerberg’s ability to inspire confidence (or lack thereof) will be front and center.

Did Social Media Evolve Bullying?

In light of Facebook offering a $200,000 grant for research towards cyber bullying, it has made many people wonder (myself included) about how social media has evolved the act of bullying itself.

Bullying was once seen as a normal rite of passage but, in fact, it is the opposite. It is what interrupts growing up, and social media added elements and means that have made it easier. Remember this story about Megan Meier from 2007 in which a mom bullied a teen in Missouri over MySpace on behalf of her daughter? 

In general, teen suicide rates related to cyber bullying are on a troubling incline. ABC recently produced a made-for-TV movie on the subject. In fact, the local and national news and morning talk shows have been all over this decade-long epidemic.

Starting with chat rooms and migrating to MySpace, cyber bullying found more anonymity (fake profiles for the use of cyber bullying was and is en vogue), and it seemed more people were willing to engage in the act in the online world.

One could even argue that social media made cyber bullies of people, who would never engage in this sort of behaviour offline. I think we can all agree it is much easier to click “send” for a hateful message than speak hateful words to someone’s face.

Facebook has taken the most heat for cyber bullying, so it is refreshing to see them actively try to help the cause. You can’t blame Facebook for the actions of their users even if that seems to be the easiest route to take. As well, you can’t really fault Facebook for being reactive as opposed to proactive, since we can all share the blame.

Facebook is engaging the research community to provide ideas to end bullying offline and online. This seems like more than just a PR move, even though the optics are incredibly positive for Mark Zuckerberg and company.

Hopefully, the grant is awarded to the right research group, and there will be practical and preventative answers. Most important is not having any more incidents like the tragedy of 16-year-old Megan Meier.