Monday, 14 February 2011

Same game, same rules

Facebook's been tagged with a $60bn valuation says The Register.

That is frankly mental. Facebook may be sweeping all before it, but we've seen this before with AOL and MySpace; there's nothing to stop a user-base migrating very, very quickly to the Next Big Thing. I'm convinced that all it took to set Facebook on the path to riches is that it made building your network much easier than MySpace (that and it didn't look like a car crash in an html factory.) On the web, you're clever, then you grow, then you get big, then you get slow and then you die.

Facebook doesn't do anything other than connect you to people. Once you're connected, then what? Share pictures? There are better solutions. Share video? Again, there are much better providers. Send email, when there's gmail instead? Please. Chuck sheep at your friends? Well ok, but $60bn for an airborne sheep assault is still madness.

This is the same old boom and crash game we've seen before. There's no way city analysts believe that Facebook is worth $60bn either but the game is reverse pass the parcel - keep playing and watch the market rise, but try to make sure you're not holding any shares when the music stops. It will keep happening, in web bubbles just like housing, until we change the rules.

I can't help feeling, like a few other commentators, that this valuation is less a sign of Facebook in rude health and more a pointer towards its employees thinking of cashing out. A precursor to decline.

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