Facebook IPO – Groundhog Day for the Internet Bubble?

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The rumors are true. Before Watchmen is a “great movie.” LOL – actually, what we meant to say was:

Facebook is going public! “The day that technology watchers have salivated over for more than a

year finally arrived on Wednesday,” says The Wrap. “The wait is over: Facebook has just filed for

its IPO,” says TechCrunch. “Facebook is looking to raise $5 billion – and will mint hundreds

(perhaps even thousands) of employees as millionaires in the process.” Get ready for a crazy

high-tech ride in 2012. Hang on to your hats and your personal data. “This is being viewed as the

much-awaited catalyst for the technology industry and is expected to set off a flurry of activity,”

writes the guy who writes GigaOM. “I have been here long enough to cover the IPOs of both Netscape

and Google,” he brags, “and on both occasions, the tailgate effect was enough to pull even the clunkers

(read: marginal startups) to the proverbial finish line.” (The only question now is: dude, what’s the

“proverbial finish line?” Insolvency?)


Now come important blog entries speculating about the dreaded B-word. “Facebook’s IPO is not the

biggest of all time, but it’s up there, which means it’s faced with the same gimlet eye as every

other big Internet public offering,” says Mashable. “The word ‘bubble’ has been floated.

That’s unfortunate since there is nothing bubble-like about Facebook.” Right!

They have customers, they have revenue. They have profits…umm, right? The IPO filing has forced

Facebook to go public with a lot of personal information that it didn’t want to share with the

whole world before (taste your own medicine, baby!) Search Engine Watch says there are 845 million

Facebook users worldwide, and 483 million active daily, and ad revenue grew 69 percent in 2011,

according to Facebook’s IPO filing. VentureBeat says Mark Zuckerberg owns 28.2 percent of Facebook,

Peter Thiel 2.5.

Epicenter breaks down the IPO filing’s revealing letter to investors by Zuckerberg. Mashable reports

that “revenue from Zynga games contribute 12% of Facebook’s bottom line. Facebook said it made

$3.71 billion last year, so almost $500 million of that came from Zynga.”

(Note: that writer obviously isn’t a seasoned financial reporter.

The terms “bottom line” and “made” refer to profits and he’s talking about topline revenues.)

Can someone clarify the financials here? TechCrunch says “the company did $3.7 billion in revenues

in 2011, and $1 billion in profits. That’s right. Net income was $1 billion. In fact, it was exactly,

$1.000 billion.” Observes MBA Online about that big round number: “Not $950 million or $1.2 Billion.

Perhaps it was a shout out to Justin Timberlake’s famous line from ‘The Social Network.'”


“Quite the status update!” says a cool and terrifying new video about the public offering at

MBA Online, which says there will be 1,000 Facebook millionaires, CEO Mark Zuckerberg could

become the 9th richest person in the world, and COO Sheryl Sandberg will become one of the

richest self-made women in the world. Gawker relates a New York Times report that David Choe,

a graffiti artist, took Facebook in return for painting an erotic mural on the wall of the

company’s first office and now may hold $200 million in securities. ReadWriteWeb documents

some other big winners in the stock sweepstakes.

So after years of growing because millions of its customers have gone public with their private lives

– for free – Facebook is cashing in bigtime. NowPublic says it’s time to put your privacy on notice

now more than ever: “When Facebook goes public, the social network’s operational priorities will

change overnight. Facebook will no longer be about building community, or connecting people,

or whatever other euphemism it’s been using for ‘collecting behavioral data’ …

If you think that Facebook has been cavalier about your privacy concerns in the past,

wait until the company’s health directly depends on it. Facebook will live and die by its stock price.

To that end, keep in mind that Facebook has no tangible product, only user information.”


But Backupify (which sounds vaguely obscene) says don’t worry: “The smart money says privacy,

security and data ownership are the big winners of the Facebook IPO. Why? Look no further than

Facebook’s actual SEC filing. This is a peek behind the curtain at Facebook’s financials that

the company would never have allowed in the past. Once you cross the threshold to publicly

traded entity, that kind of secrecy is never coming back. The SEC spotlight makes it possible

for the data liberation movement to keep a much keener eye on Facebook’s inner workings.”

Meanwhile, Facebook is making its life-story-telling “Timeline” page layout mandatory,

and “as expected, many Facebook users are… pissed at the mandatory roll out,” reports Silicon Angle.

TechLand and security firm Sophos polled users to see how much they love Timeline: “8% responded

that they liked it and another 8% said they’d ‘get used to it’ – call that 16% in favor.

The remainder? Fifty-one percent found Facebook Timeline worrisome, while the remaining 32% said

they weren’t sure why they still used the social networking service. That’s 83% with a negative take…

The Sophos employee who wrote about the poll was so put off by the amount of information Facebook

Timeline surfaced (and, more importantly, the way it collated the data) that he deleted his

Facebook account entirely.” Doesn’t it feel like we should each earn a share of Facebook stock

every time we click “share”?