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The Facebook IPO: just a few comments

Facebook‘s IPO (Initial Public Offering) was today – the biggest opening ever for a technology company and the third largest IPO in U.S. history after Visa and General Motors (which, as you remember, was recently called “Government Motors” by some, after the taxpayer bailout). How fast and far can the Facebook Phoenix rise from the ashes of a campus formerly known to some of us as “Sun Quentin?”

“A $104 billion market capitalization puts Facebook at more than 100 times its trailing earnings,” wrote John Constine and Kim-Mai Cutler for technology blog TechCrunch. “That’s a big multiple to live up to, and it will likely need to add bold new revenue streams to justify the mammoth valuation.”

People had a lot of fun with the Facebook IPO. A number of people made a lot of money. Cynics and competitors apparently “poked fun.”

More sober-minded watchers, however, noted that on Wall Street, when an opening stock sticks close to where it started, it means it was probably priced correctly to begin with.

Personally, I am not at all sure what, if anything, the return of the stock price to near its $38 beginning price actually means. I am not at all convinced that the stock market, as a whole, represents much more than greed and “herd behavior.”

Most people do not really understand (or CARE! :-) ) what Facebook actually IS! I am certain that I do not understand completely, either, because Facebook is truly a new phenomenon. The CNN folks obviously do not understand what Facebook is, either, because they entitled an embedded video, “Will the next generation use Facebook?”

Facebook is a place where millions of people meet, talk about things that they shouldn’t, upload geotagged photos that tell almost anyone where and when they took the photos and what they were doing at the time, and who all of their “friends” (the nodes of the global, interconnected “social graph”) ARE! Such information is HUGELY important to government (as well as retail), and government has a lot of money (OURS!) and no doubt has a lot of contracts with Facebook, which is performing a valuable service for government, as we ALL are (all of us reporting our activities to the Facebook data base and uploading our geotagged photos).

Oh, data bases NEVER go away. The “data retention” policies of companies exist only to discourage subpoenas.

There is no way that the “next generation” will be ABLE to “opt out” of Facebook, Google, Twitter, cell phones, cable TV, networked cameras, domestic drone overflights, or other surveillance devices. Unless they opt for “that cabin in Montana,” or something similar…. If they choose to opt out of SOME of the above activities and devices, their “friends” will report on them and for them.

And so, with Facebook, the world is fundamentally different…. So how in the heck can ANYONE, “pro” or “amateur,” put a PRICE on its stock?

-Bill at

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