Anyone with any interest or dealings with Social Media has gotten swept up in the IPO efforts of Facebook. It’s expected these efforts will generate $5 to $10 billion, and that the company’s value will perhaps rise to as much as $100 billion. In fact, the IPO is expected to be one of the largest in U.S. history.
What does that mean for the rest of us? At the very least, it is a study in how we confront economic and business change, as well as what we can expect as both personal and business users of Social Media such as Facebook.
Douglas Rushkoff, author of “Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commandments for a Digital Age,” said the more money Facebook takes on, the more like money it will become. In other words, when a social media company is a social media upstart, it’s motives are vastly different than when it’s responsible for acting in the best interest of its shareholder — a requirement for being a publicly traded company.
And, Rushkoff points out, that could mean some changes for Facebook users. Because profits for Facebook don’t directly come from users — but rather from advertisers and social marketing firms — to maximize profits, Facebook will have to look for ways to improve that are in the best interest of advertisers and marketers.
This is the power of the economy, plain and simple. And this despite Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s noble comments, expressed in his letter that accompanied the IPO:
“Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”
Yes, as Zuckerberg points out, Facebook boils down this: “Even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people.” But it has become so much more enormous than this.
He and his company are now enmeshed and integrated into the world of economic reality. This is neither good nor bad; it is simply a function of the way the world works.
The best in business (and in life!) are governed by our “core values.” And in an ideal world, these core values do not change—despite what our business and the economy have in store for us.
Let’s hope that Mark Zuckerberg proves to be the same “master of the mainstream” as he has been a revolutionary in communications.