Four Things Not to 'Like' About the Facebook IPO
"Facebook has a solid business right now, but keep these weaknesses in mind before getting too excited."
"Facebook is a display advertising business. Mark Zuckerberg may write about his goal of bringing everyone together and making government more responsive to its citizens, but for investors, Facebook's purpose is to drive traffic to look at ads on the site. Advertising is essentially the only thing that makes any money for Facebook. This isn't exactly a new business model. For 15 years now, Yahoo (YHOO) has been trying to drive users to its universe of sites to show them ads.
So in order for Facebook to grow its top line, it needs to either realize higher ad-sales rates or increase the reach of its site. Both are tricky propositions..."
How Much Can You Sell Your Users?
"People with Facebook pages are not just the firm's users; they are also the product being sold to advertisers. The firm's core pitch to the advertisers that are filling up its coffers is that it knows an incredible amount of information about individual users, and that Facebook can serve up targeted ads that are likely to make an impact on buying habits..."
"Google appears to be the largest competitive threat to Facebook. The two firms are similar in many respects. They may get their user data in different ways (search versus social networking), but they both are trying to use that data to serve up targeted ads.
And now Google is making a big push into social networking, too..."
"Corporate governance is not the sexiest part of most offerings, but it really does matter. It might not be apparent anytime soon, but handing over total voting control of Facebook to Mark Zuckerberg, even though he only has a 28% economic interest, is not shareholder-friendly..."
"Facebook is Zuckerberg's baby, and he is unlikely to seriously consider any takeover offers years down the line, even if they would be the best thing for common shareholders. Look at what happened at Yahoo. Founder Jerry Yang's insistence on remaining a stand-alone company meant that the firm spurned a lucrative Microsoft (MSFT) deal that would have created tremendous value for Yahoo shareholders. And Yang only owns a very small slice of the firm!..."