Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Facebook or Die!

The rumor mill has been fabricating some interesting stories about Mark Zuckerberg and the announcement that his beloved Facebook will be closing its doors in the near future due to the effects it has had on his personal life. From Weekly World News:

“Facebook has gotten out of control,” said Zuckerberg in a press conference outside his Palo Alto office, “and the stress of managing this company has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness.”
Zuckerberg went on to explain that starting March 15th, users will no longer be able to access their Facebook accounts.
“After March 15th the whole website shuts down,” said Avrat Humarthi, Vice President of Technical Affairs at Facebook. “So if you ever want to see your pictures again, I recommend you take them off the internet. You won’t be able to get them back once Facebook goes out of business.”
Before investigating the validity of this my immediate thoughts were, "yes!" and "Mark has been reading my blog!" (see my previous post here). The chances of the latter are none given my blog hit rate, but then again I may be black listed and filtered through some complex algorithmic system that combines facial recognition and cross references my complete government file and internet history in case they need to black mail me or something. Paranoid much? You never know with Zuckerberg. In this era I feel like even my concerns with abuses of technology underestimate the scope of capabilities.

Of course the story is a complete work of fiction but reiterates some of my thoughts posted in the past. A cliche infotainment stunt gone viral. I have to admit I would be disappointed if it were true. Not because I really care about losing Facebook, but because I think the impact of the population losing the dominant social network unannounced would be much more effective. Corporate America waking up one Monday morning to a message that reads, "We are not sorry to inform you that we have shut down Facebook. Go live life."

Is it troublesome that the utopia I would settle for at this point is one free of social (network) constraints? At the same time, I am completely fascinated by the culture surrounding them and will continue an immersion technique while they do exists. I am not addicted to social networking. I am addicted to the addiction of social networking. I am also not alone in this regard.

In the shadow of Facebook's insane recent financial endorsement by Goldman Sachs to the tune of $50 million last week, Groupon has out shown them with a $92 million dollar investment - the largest for a start up. I am not trying to be the social lifeguard here waving a red flag, but does this not remind anyone of the dot com bubble? There may be a different dynamic this time, but lets break it down - you are dumping exorbitant amounts of money into a website, that offers coupons and deal incentives with a networking twist. That is all they do. This is not a new idea by any means, they just happened to have that bit of luck accompanied by name recognition building that is all to familiar in this sector. This isn't a social network for curing cancer or innovating energy. It is coupons. Once the hype dies down and the dust settles, in say 5-10 years (or less), will Groupon still be a worthwhile investment - let alone the largest of all the start ups?

We can say the same for Facebook. Given the track record of technology, software, internet media and data, Facebook will become inferior at some point - just ask Myspace. Sitting here today I can think of a laundry list of things Facebook does wrong and improvements that could be made, but yet have never happened. I feel this is part of their marketing strategy for expectation management and not trying to sink their ship with unpopular drastic changes. Smart, effective but comes with natural consequence. History tells us that one day there will be something new, hopefully improved, and Facebook will be the thing we used back in the day. Yet, these elite investors still seem to be dumping long term type investments into a short return spectrum. Lets hope for their sake, and in effect our own, that I am wrong.

Mark might consider making a public statement about his supposed door slam in the face for the people not competent enough to research the background and point of origin of this story. A simple Tweet would suffice. Wait, is that blasphemy? I don't know how it works for the top tier social network gods. Does Bill Gates own an iPad?

I will continue to be in awe of the expansion and contractions of this market. It is unprecedented, if not unjustified, but it might be beneficial to ride the wave if you can bail before it crashes.

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