Bebo. Friendster. MySpace. All great social networks that have come and gone in what the history books will call a blip, a blink of an eye. Of course, they are still in existence, but when you pit them against the almost insanely powerful Facebook, they pale into almost complete insignificance. Twitter, which is more of a micro-blogging tool than a social network, is the only viable competitor to Facebook, and even that is a debatable statement.
In truth, Facebook commands what must be one of the greatest monopolies in the relatively recent history of the technology industry. I mean, even Microsoft’s Windows has it’s competitors, despite their comparatively diminutive stature. But, will Facebook ever come crashing down?
You know what they say, and it might be an old cliché, but the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And although the recent hit movie ‘The Social Network’, starring Jesse Eisenberg as the figurehead of the $70 billion corporation, the almost legendary Mark Zuckerberg, would have you believe that the man himself cares nothing for money in any way, shape or form. However, I’m sure the reality of crashing from an incredible fortune to nothing overnight, as is a possibility for any web-based business, would hit him pretty hard.
So, how come Facebook is holding out where others failed? Through hard work and dedication? Maybe. From greater investment and more financial clout? Probably. Or was it more that the likes of the aforementioned predecessors to Facebook: Friendster, Bebo, MySpace, laid the foundations for a new era of the Internet. The social revolution, if you will, and Facebook jumped on and took the reins of the bandwagon, and never looked back?
It’s likely that Facebook was simply the first viable social network that came after people started to get the hang of what was to come by using MySpace and Bebo. Of course, what a social network needs is e-socialites with a whole groups of friends to sign up and start spreading the word. Once that happens, soon ‘everybody’ will be signing up, and so it begins. And so it did begin for Facebook, which would happily stand as the second most populated nation on Earth, behind only China, should it be a country, which obviously it isn’t – but it’s now that influential to warrant mobile phone manufacturers putting physical Facebook buttons on their handsets.
But will it ever come crashing down? Will Facebook crime increase continue to increase? Will people start to delete their Facebook accounts in huge numbers? Will Mark Zuckerberg watch his empire burn to the ground around him? It is impossible for me to say, and I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess, as I’m not expert in the field of business analysis, but a more pressing question is ‘should Zuckerberg sell up’?
Obviously that does depend on his motives. Again, the movie would have you believe the Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, would suck the company dry for every penny that he can squeeze out of it, so maybe he would like to offer the multi-billion dollar website to, I don’t know, Google? Or would that just ruin the magic?
Facebook is, and always will be, a fairy tale. Mark Zuckerberg will go down in history as the youngest billionaire ever, and it’s unlikely, though not impossible, that someone younger will ever surpass his incredible achievements. Despite his apparent personal traits, because we don’t know him that well, we see Mark Zuckerberg behind this glittered veil, a high flyer, and without him at the helm, maybe that’s when Facebook would falter.
SecondMarket has valued Facebook at $70 billion. But how can you put a number on something that grows so rapidly? $27 per share could be $30 next week, or instead it could be nothing. Zilch. It’s so fragile, but so long as we loyal servants sit glued to our screens and suck up everything that Facebook has to offer (I’m looking at you, Farmville), it just won’t stop growing.