OPINION: Facebook created an IPO larger than the raptureJesus had better not return to earth this week. We will be too busy with the Facebook IPO to deal with Him.
By: ALEXANDRA PETRI, The Washington Post
Jesus had better not return to earth this week. We will be too busy with the Facebook IPO to deal with Him. “That’s very nice, Lord,” we’ll say, escorting Him to a chair in the corner. “But we’re looking at an initial stock price of $100! Initial! Do you know what that means?”
The Facebook IPO is going to cure cancer and also tell us what glasses flatter our face shapes. It is going to find us dates on the Internet who are neither creepy nor excessively earnest. And I fear that I’m understating things.
I am not sure how Facebook decided to value itself at $5 billion. Consider that Facebook contains Farmville and users like my friend who updates on an hourly basis to say how “fierce” she is feeling. And this IPO is supposed to spin the questionable straw of Facebook user profiles into, well, actual gold.
How? No one is quite sure. They say that if you are using something for free, you aren’t the consumer — you’re the product. If so, I am the product, and anyone who invests in Facebook is investing in me — or, more specifically, in my capacity to click on ads. I should warn investors that, while I excel at clicking on ads, I am less good at buying things afterward.
This monetization question is the big problem of the Social Internet: Everyone’s here, but how do we make them pay for things without undermining the premise?
People expect a lot from this IPO. Facebook has a strange track record when it comes to privacy, and pressure to squeeze money from users for its advertisers seems unlikely to improve things on that front.
Facebook users are the definition of a captive audience. And with the failure of a viable alternative to emerge in Google(plus)+, things will remain that way for a while.