No matter how deep you are into your Friday, it is likely that you have been inundated with the Facebook IPO watch. It’s that bizarre event where people who do not have billions of dollars “oooooo and ahhhhhh” over people who are making billions of dollars. I, for one, am happy that they are making their money. They earned it on some level or another and that’s fine by me. It doesn’t mean I have to spend every second reading about it or crowing over it, though.
Because the impact of this “event” is not the IPO itself, it’s what Facebook looks like moving forward. One thing is clear from the most recent product updates and releases: they are going to do whatever they can to make as much money as possible as a public company because they are now on the hook for their actions.
I actually wonder what the forces were that made them go public. I suppose it was pressure from their investors to cash in and get their investment back in spades (or Facebook credits :-) ). Companies don’t invest money in other companies out of simple goodwill. They want their money (and hopefully piles more) back–and the sooner the better.
Facebook is going to be an interesting entity moving forward. Mark Zuckerberg will hold a large chunk of the shares and he has already exhibited his comfort with doing something basically behind everyone’s back (from the founding of Facebook all the way through the Instagram “purchase” which is now delayed for about 6 months because apparently Mark is not God and must play by a few rules like the rest of us). This will mean that he will see his baby as still being under his control. That’s probably not how it is going to work.
Why not? Well, just take a look at the most recent escapades of Silicon Valley co-habitor, Yahoo. They made a very public screwup in their hiring of CEO Scott Thompson and all of the uproar (which left Yahoo with a serious amount of egg on its face) came from one of the largest shareholders. You know those guys. The ones that buy large positions in a company so they can force the hand of those who think they are in charge (i.e. Zuckerberg). They can make a public company’s life a living hell if they are not happy.
Now Facebook goes from having a relatively tight-knit group of early investors to having the potential of anyone coming in and buying as large a piece of the Facebook pie as they can fit on their plate. As a result, the power that existed as a private company becomes diluted on many levels, and I honestly don’t see Mark Zuckerberg taking to it very well. Of course, I don’t know him personally, so I could be completely wrong here, and I reserve that right (that goes for anything I write really).
So yes, while this post wasn’t about the IPO directly, it was. That’s the way all news for Facebook will be from this day forward. Everything will be done as a public company, which means it will be done for its public (read: shareholders). How that turns out for those that use the tool to make money for their business remains to be seen, but it might safe to assume that anything they see from Facebook will have been done for the shareholders first and the users second.
Don’t let Mark Zuckerberg hear me say that because he’s convinced that he will be about the users first even after today has come and gone. Silly rich man.