Facebook IPO Presents New Options for Social Network
Altimeter Group analyst Rebecca Lieb said she sees Facebook expanding into data management and analysis, using big data on consumers to improve its own services and boost advertising bucks. Lieb pointed to Facebook "actions," the frictionless sharing approach in its Timeline user interface. This service lets users choose to integrate social applications, such as Netflix, Foodspotting, Spotify and some 60 others to Facebook.When users add the applications on Facebook, "stories" about activity users engage in with those apps is automatically published on Facebook.For example, when a user watched a movie or TV episode on Netflix, a "story" about that activity would publish in the user's news "ticker" activity stream. The idea is that users don't have to manually share every time they read a news story, listen to a tune or watch a flick. Lieb believes that the big data about users can be leveraged by Facebook to translate into highly targeted ads, enabling Facebook to suggest restaurants, music and movies, among other products and services, to each user in their Timeline. Of course, it remains to be seen who will stick around Facebook for the long haul. Once the company goes public this year it will trigger so many "instantly minted, young millionaires," Lieb noted. "That's not going to happen overnight, but it will over the next couple of years," Valdes said, adding that Google went through a similar situation. Ultimately, Lieb and Valdes both foresee the emergence of a "Facebook Mafia," a group of entrepreneurial-minded leaders within Facebook who go off to launch or fund their own companies. Facebook's Mafia would be modeled after the PayPal Mafia. This group included Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who went off to create YouTube, and Max Levchin, who built Slide. Ironically, both YouTube and Slide were acquired by Google.