Patrick Gladney is the Director of Research and Insights at SMG. Follow @pgladney
This week represents a coming out party of sorts for the gorilla of social networks, Facebook. Any day now, the Facebook IPO means that people will be able to own a piece of the company rather than just “Like” it. So how will Facebook fare once it is traded on the open market? Will the merciless scrutiny of Wall Street and public investors alter the trajectory of a channel with a (projected) larger market cap than Disney, News Corp or CBS? I wonder, particularly when one reads the 16 words from a letter Mark Zuckerberg wrote, included in Facebook’s IPO filing:
“Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”
Perhaps Zuck is looking to mimic Google’s famous “informal” corporate mantra “Don’t be evil” in choosing such an altruistic social mission statement. But Facebook consistently gets in trouble with privacy watchdogs, intent on protecting consumer data. So much so, that one might easily believe that money making trumps services at Facebook. Or perhaps those services relate to the needs of advertisers, instead of ordinary members?
Regardless, I find it interesting that a business the size of Facebook downplays the significance of making money, almost as if it’s a dirty practice. Businesses are built to make money, and I am sure that investors will see this as the priority. Investing in the business to improve the service offering makes sense in the early stages, but my guess is that Wall Street will want Facebook to grow up. As the old saying goes, “if you want to run with the big dogs…”
What do you think Facebook’s real priorities are?