These fictitious people in the zoo had a big board supposedly showing stock market quotations and comodity prices along one wall of their habitat, and a news ticker, and a telephone that was supposedly connected to a brokerage on Earth. The creatures on Zircon-212 told their captives that they had invested a million dollars for them back on Earth, and that it was up to the captives to manage it so that they would be fabulously wealthy when they were returned to Earth.
The telephone and the big board and the ticker were all fakes, of course. They were simply stimulants to make the Earthlings perform vividly for the crowds at the zoo--to make them jump up and down and cheer, or gloat, or sulk, or tear their hair, to be scared shitless or to feel as contented as babies in their mothers' arms.
The Earthlings did very well on paper. That was part of the rigging, of course. And religion got mixed up in it, too. The news ticker reminded them that the President of the United States had declared National Prayer Week, and that everybody should pray. The Earthlings had had a bad week on the market before that. They had lost a small fortune in olive oil futures. So they gave praying a whirl.
It worked. Olive oil went up.
-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5
(feedback loops in markets are nothing short of amazing - nowhere else can you make something a reality to such a degree by just pretending it's real)
Every hacker, every entrepreneur, every creator should derive inspiration and uplift from Facebook's story. It's a rare bright day in the middle of the worst economic environment since the 1930s. It doesn't matter whether the company will grow into a $100B valuation. It does matter that it was started in February 2004, by a single guy with a computer, and has affected the lives of billions of people and created billions of dollars in wealth.
Maybe the markets won't be kind to them. Maybe they won't grow into the $100B valuation. But outside of those who are direct competitors, I can't understand anyone who actually wishes them ill. As a creator, as an entrepreneur, as a hacker, if you tear down Facebook you're just tearing down yourself.
The top voted comment actually is an excerpt from a book by a man that I respect a whole lot more than I respect Mark Zuckerberg. For one he seemed a genuinely nice and modest human being. He also influenced the lives of countless people by being creative rather than by selling off their private details to the highest bidder. I really like that top voted comment, instead of gushing admiration for a pile of virtual money it causes you to reflect and think.
Making a lot of money does not automatically equate accomplishment.
Contrast this with the SpaceX announcement on the homepage at the moment. If Elon Musk succeeds, which I certainly hope for then that will be an accomplishment. Even if SpaceX fails it will still be a huge and daring move. Compared to giving humanity a new window on access to space photo sharing seems a little underwhelming.
If you can't understand anyone who actually wishes them ill then please consider that we do not all have the same goals and we do not all have the same vision of what the internet could be like. As a creator, as an business person and a hacker I would happily see facebook replaced by a company or an entity that gave us 80% of the functionality with our joint privacy in tact. That would be progress.
Facebook is just AOL re-invented for the new millenium.
And the worst part of it is there is a kid acting as CEO calling himself a "hacker".
Hackers do not turn websites into corporations. Imagine if all ISP's were turned into "AOL's".
Facebook did not connect billions of people. They were already connected. All they needed to do was share their contact details. And the facility for that already existed in thousands of other websites.
People chose one website, Facebook. That's a good thing. And the credit should go to people for encouraging each other to all sign up at one website.
But alas it is the website of a sociopath who took people's contact details (calling them "dumb fucks" for giving him their info), the way a spammer collects email addresses, or a cybercriminal collects credit card numbers, and then sold the information for financial gain (your info is worth maybe .85 to a few bucks at most in this market). He's creating the next generation of mailbox stuffed full of junk direct marketing.
If Mark Zuckerberg is your hero you need think more carefully about what he has done and re-examine your principles.
If we are bashing fb for using personal info to sell ads - the same principal basically applies to any major social site in the world.
Hate him or love him - fb has been a huge boon for the everyday people, tech startups, and hackers; and along the way has made Zuck and many others massively wealthy. Don't hate.
Are you attributing the "boon" to one web developer when it really is a result of the inevitable growth of the web, mobile computing, internet connectivity, dropping costs for hardware, etc.? Or maybe it's the amazing feat of acquiring a billion users? Maybe you think that was heretofor impossible?
If it wasn't the Facebook site, it would have been another site. Do you disagree? To think that Facebook made something possible that would not have been possible without one web developer seems irrational. It could have been anyone.
People can connect. Not because of one person and his website, but because of technology.
If a billion people choose to sign up and use your website as a hub for personal communication, I think that places some responsibility on you.
Whether you become a billionaire or not should not affect that responsibility.
There is nothing wrong with that actually.
>>And the worst part of it is there is a kid acting as CEO calling himself a "hacker". Hackers do not turn websites into corporations. Imagine if all ISP's were turned into "AOL's".
Please define what a hacker is. Seriously you make it look as though a hacker as just somebody who keeps doing tech work for free or a throw away price. What is wrong with hackers running companies? And making money?
By the way he wrote a good enough part of the early website himself, hired people and sold it to investors. He built stuff which people wanted to use purely on his technical and selling skills.
If this isn't good hacking I don't know what is.
>>Facebook did not connect billions of people. They were already connected. All they needed to do was share their contact details. And the facility for that already existed in thousands of other websites.
You could say the same about the telegraph, telephone, postal services, mobile phones or anything on the earth that connects people. Basically a way of 'contact' is what is needed for connecting people.
>>People chose one website, Facebook. That's a good thing. And the credit should go to people for encouraging each other to all sign up at one website.
Why did those people choose only Facebook? Why did people choose only iPhone, Why did people choose only Twitter? Why did people choose only <insert any useful thing>?
>>But alas it is the website of a sociopath who took people's contact details (calling them "dumb fucks" for giving him their info), the way a spammer collects email addresses, or a cybercriminal collects credit card numbers, and then sold the information for financial gain (your info is worth maybe .85 to a few bucks at most in this market). He's creating the next generation of mailbox stuffed full of junk direct marketing.
When you information even secret at the first place?
>>If Mark Zuckerberg is your hero you need think more carefully about what he has done and re-examine your principles.
Well he will always be a hero to many people. Because a college kid with computer in his dorm, built a product, a team full of hard working people which bought several millions to use their product. He continues to execute strong and ship great things.
He also knows how to sell his work, the man just made the world $18 billion for his work! Do you think that is joke?
Everyone around here knows how difficult it is to raise money to do <anything>. And we might talking of just hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Here the man made the world pay in tens of billions.
I don't see much about ethics, changing the world, expanding the frontiers of science, moving people out of poverty, anything like that.
Now please play this right and tell me Mr. Zuck has donated lot of money he got from his business, how that's made the world better, etc.
I firmly believe the social networks - including FB - have a lot to do with the uprisings in the arab world. I think it contributes a lot to make the world flatter, allowing people to live where they want to while staying in contact with their family, former coworkers, etc. It also inspires so many other social tools that allow to transfer knowledge much more efficiently anywhere on earth.
Truth is, FB is still struggling to make money. The banks kept the stock at IPO level with huge bids. But whatever, they brought a fantastic story. And they extracted huge money from the ad market, for sure. But who knows if Zuck will not follow Bill Gates path later?
If I keep my money to myself, is it unethical?
Frontiers of science?
Ever checked out Facebook's Github repo?
What do you mean to imply? Is it that a person must donate his wealth and distribute it among the poor to to qualify as a successful?
I am not going say that Mr Zuck has donated a lot of money he got from his business because I don't consider that as something he has to do qualify as successful.
I like SpaceX too. It's every geek's childhood fantasy. It's a great thing. Elon is the real Tony Stark. But the reality is that far more humans benefit from relatively mundane advances in things like cell phones and social networking than rockets.
Facebook is connecting humanity together in a way that's never been possible before. Improving the lives of billions of people in a meaningful way is an undeniably Big Fucking Deal.
Would we blame it on facebook if the spring failed to lead into summer? If not then it stands to reason that we can't credit facebook with the success either.
The Arab Spring and all the good that may come out of it belongs to the Arabs, to those that laid their life on the line and to those that stood up to oppression.
Connecting humanity is an important thing but we have a very large number of ways to do that, facebook is but one of those.
I'm with you that connecting peoples lives in such a way is beneficial, but I'm not quite sure yet if Facebooks net value is positive or not if you factor in the massive privacy violations that have already happened coupled with those that are surely to come.
No social network has the potential for good as much as facebook does at the moment. But at the same time that potential needs to be realized and that needs to be balanced with a healthy respect for the privacy of the users of that network.
For a good read on the Arab Spring and the online movements:
The telephone, the internet in general, twitter, online news media and yes, Facebook all played a minor role. But in the end it was the people that made the change and they would have found a way to communicate. Possibly not as effective but there have been revolutions all over the world that pre-date the invention of the telephone so a new piece of technology is likely not an enabler but simply one more line of possible communication.
There is a logic fallacy in this statement: Facebook was the tool to call and organize millions of people for the Arab Spring; organization is the obligatory step 1 for a revolution; if they fail at step 2 or 3 it haves nothing to do with Facebook; it would be like pretending that telephones do not help in emergency situations because when the fireman doesn't arrive fast enough we don't blame the telephone company.
Also, in Syria, the authorities tortured people for their Facebook profile information. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/8...
Please distinguish my reporting of facts from taking a position on this issue.
And anyhow, the effect on arab spring of social media such as facebook is highly overstated, as one rebel said in an interview "We turned to facebook and twitter only after we had destroyed 90% of the police stations in our town."
Rockets and all 'complicated' science, push the human race forward. Your cellphone is only able to connect to the internet because of the rockets that were send to the atmosphere, long time ago. Better than me, I have to people to talk about this.
Read Science and Culture, by Thomas Huxley : How often have we not been told that the study of physical science is incompetent to confer culture; that it touches none of the higher problems of life; and, what is worse, that the continual devotion to scientific studies tends to generate a narrow and bigoted belief in the applicability of scientific methods to the search after truth of all kinds. How frequently one has reason to observe that no reply to a troublesome argument tells so well as calling its author a "mere scientific specialist." And, as I am afraid it is not permissible to speak of this form of opposition to scientific education in the past tense; may we not expect to be told that this, not only omission, but prohibition, of "mere literary instruction and education" is a patent example of scientific narrow-mindedness? source: http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Essays/Best/HuxleyScienceC...
And the great Neil deGrasse Tyson , in the pretty "We stopped Dreaming": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbIZU8cQWXc
You absolutely can. The telephone did those things, too. So does Twitter. If it weren't Facebook, something else would've been used instead.
This is like celebrating the "success" of a new hammer design. There will be another tool in five years' time that will replace Facebook, too.
Why wasn't something else you say was actually present when it was needed?
Why didn't somebody else execute it and build it.
The fact is that <somebody> who can build awesome <anything> is difficult to find is the crux of this whole debate.
It's not as if they set facebook up with the intent on making it easy to organise revolutions.
If they could have got similar eyeballs by posting a video on xtube.com would that have made xtube a great innovation?
Consider what we have done already with rockets. There are many satellites orbiting the earth that make huge communication networks possible. Rockets sent them up there. SpaceX may not have immediate applications, but someone needs to be pushing the frontiers of science and technology. If there wasn't a space program going back decades, I seriously doubt we would have the ability to communicate the way do today.
b. Doesn't matter how many social networking sites are built if we run out of room.
c. Mapping, telecoms, climate, nuclear proliferation.
Targeting ads, selling to advertisers, giving it to advertisers so they can better target their ads. It's probably a matter of degree rather than an absolute. Fact is, if you give your information to facebook you have no idea where it's going to end up and you have relatively little control over it. Yes, you can control what other web users see about you (to some extent, some data is always public). But what happens behind the scenes, which apps have access to your data and to what extent and what advertisers are able to get out of facebook is very murky.
Since the $ is king here I'll assume the worst and hope for the best.
And hey, just like google and others, they allow you to adjust your privacy settings to a great degree, have you visited the privacy settings lately? Yes, they have few controls in the past, but such is the nature of building and iterating, you can't get everything right in the first try...
To the argument of giving information to facebook and not knowing where it will end up, heck, that's true for every company and person that you come across!
You think SpaceX isn't a reinvention of what NASA has been doing since decades? Let alone that, if SpaceX is even doing all that its because somebody like NASA and space research organizations of various countries have contributed to fundamental things required for Space exploration.
Nearly everything you wrote applies to any other company. Every company can be replaced with any other company. That is the most beautiful and scariest part of it all.
>>Making a lot of money does not automatically equate accomplishment.
It does actually. Just because some of us can't, it doesn't mean others who can are wrong.
Now let me explain you why it is important. People trust their money with other people whom they think can execute, build value and make more money. In other words they trust them to be successful.
You and I know its no joke to raise that kind of money.
>>He also influenced the lives of countless people by being creative rather than by selling off their private details to the highest bidder. I really like that top voted comment, instead of gushing admiration for a pile of virtual money it causes you to reflect and think.
Now this comment shows some element of envy and jealousy. Because discrediting some one's work by calling them evil. And justifying your own failure as made look success because you are not that so called evil won't work.
Where have we seen this before. Calling profit making corporations as evil, rich people as evil, movie stars as evil, bankers as evil... etc..
May be you don't have the same goals as he does, that is ok. But that in itself doesn't mean your goals are divine and his goals are satanic.
At most it means, his goals lead to better profits than yours. And there is nothing wrong in that.
Respond to what people actually say, not what you read into their remarks.
Facebook, has something called as 'Terms and Conditions' of usage like any other piece of software/product on earth. Any piece of software/service/product you are likely to use has clauses that may not fit into what you would like to hear. And people accept those clauses because the net utility of the product is more than what they trade for the clauses.
But these constant rants about why Facebook doesn't deserve the success they have earned is getting boring and is not making sense anymore.
By the way, this is absolutely not true. The majority of the software I use is licensed with terms that I agree with completely, and does things that I find totally reasonable. You make it sound like behaving counter to users' interests is a prerequisite for creating good software, and that couldn't be further from the truth.
So is the constant 'defense' of Facebook from these 'rants'. Both sides should probably just give it a rest and move on?
Your comment shows a complete lack of reading comprehension and puts words in my mouth.
My 'failure' is good enough for me, thank you.
You have several items in your pocket that I had a hand in, and you've probably used a piece of software that I wrote at some point in your life.
I don't call profit making corporations evil, I don't call rich people evil, I don't envy Mark Zuckerberg.
Anyway, what the top comment actually is will not change my feelings towards what it was when I wrote that. I thought it was quite appropriate and a lot more in line with what I'd expect of HN than gushing praise.
The outcome of this trend of "evil" IPOs will likely splatter the rest of our community for outsiders, like it happened in the dotcom bubble. Healthy and ethical startups will have trouble getting reasonably sized funds.
You should read about the Greenshoe trick, the tiny amount of shares on the market (~450m vs 2bn) and the trick Zuckerberg is placing on investors. No wonder it's back to 38 right now (and not lower because of underwriters holding the price there). You can only fool people for so long.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/3/caf4b0a4-a067-11e1-88e6-00144feabd... (registration walled article, but it's free)
The "evil" tech IPOs: Groupon, Zynga and Facebook. I hope they go away quickly so our industry can get past them.
http://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ%3AGRPN -8% today
http://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:ZNGA -15% today
http://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ%3AFB +0.1% today
The Facebook story is definitely not "a single guy with a computer," which the movie The Social Network should have made abundantly clear, but it does reflect Zuckerberg's singular dedication to his vision of what it should be. Not surprisingly I know other CEOs who have carried that same sort of singular vision in companies right into the ground. That Facebook is IPO'ing today is great, but its story is at least as much luck and circumstance as it is the story of the CEO and his ideas.
What is also true is that human nature involves evaluation of self, and that evaluation is done most strongly against peers. Many people experience it at their first significant High School or College reunion. It goes like this:
"Hey Bob, wow, its been 5 years since Alma Mater U, how is it going?"
"Hi Alice, well I'm really excited because my wife and I just bought a plane! Can you believe it?! You know I've always loved flying and well when I sold Foobits I had some extra cash and its been great! It's surprisingly economical to fly up and down the coast rather than driving for flying commercially ..."
Now if Alice hasn't been as 'successful' as Bob and she feels like she left Alma Mater U with the same 'chances' as Bob did, she might feel any number of negative emotions, anger, shame, jealousy, Etc. Contrast that with the second scenario:
"Hey Charlie, wow its been 5 years since Alma Mater U how is it going?"
"Hey Alice, well its going alright. I managed save up enough to get a house but with the big crash that's underwater. The downturn hit my industry pretty hard and so I've been consulting and what not but now I'm looking into a way to strategically exit my house without having to have a foreclosure or a bankruptcy on my record, but I know its pretty hard everywhere, how about you?"
Now if Alice in this scenario isn't looking at a personal bankruptcy before the age of 25, and is gainfully employed, she might naturally feel like her talents combined with the equivalent experience at Alma Mater U has given her an edge over folks like Charlie. She feels good about her choices.
But what is really happening is that the first 10 years 'out of the gate', starting with the last year of college will show huge variations in 'success' across your peers. Some will prosper quickly, some will spiral into poverty, some will vanish into the fabric of 9 to 5 life and others will quietly end their lives, the whole range of outcomes both good and bad.
And all during that time/process people will be trying to sort out how much of the success or lack of success of their peers reflects on their own success or lack of success. As folks work through that process they sometimes become enlightened, sometimes bitter, often cynical, and ideally wiser.
 "Reasonably wealthy" in this context means one could live off the proceeds with a middle income lifestyle without further employment.
As someone who will be facing his 5 year college reunion, do you have any tips to deal with this floodgate of emotions? Personally, I'm planning to embellish my accomplishments by saying I have sired 5 kids.
But as a general rule, no I don't have any tips. I used to try to explain how having kids changed my whole being and outlook, but to people without kids it is like explaining color to a blind person, to people with kids its like explaining the obvious. Sorry.
AYN RAND: Of course not. One should merely keep them in their place. An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man's value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man's reason and his emotions -- provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows -- or makes it a point to discover -- the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow -- then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction -- his own and that of others. http://ellensplace.net/ar_pboy.html
Personally, I think that the recent price action on FB, ZNGA and GRPN means that the market has no appetite for over-hyped valuation of web 2.0 companies trading at 100x their earnings (or loss for that matter). So I'll be buying bearish call spreads or outright puts when these POS bounce. I have no ill feeling towards Zuckerberg but want to make a profit trading.
Now on the topic of "creators" creating value, it's my opinion that the guys that have created value in computing are Linus Tovald and rms'es, not the start-up kids who do copy-paste RoRpasta on Stack Overflow and get ridiculous valuation 'cause we are in a bubble. IMO it's the FB engineers that optimized php engine and open-sourced, not Mark Zuckerberg nor Cheryl Sanderberg nor the VCs.
PS: I have never signed up, and I know plenty of people that stopped using Facebook. I also see people spending hours a day while at work on Facebook so they could become a 500 billion dollar company, but it's got nothing to do with envoy that I have told many people to avoid the stock.
Zuckerberg comes across in interviews that I've watched and in the statements that he makes as the guy that got away with it. And Facebooks strategies and actions re-inforce that. It is very well possible that that is a wrong conclusion but to date I have yet to see much evidence of that.
If facebook throws its considerable weight behind an all-out effort to protect the privacy of its users at the behest of the upper management then I'll re-consider that position but until then my opinion will remain where it is today: distrust coupled with a creep factor that is right off the scale.
The German Data protection watchdog today issued a message that Facebook is in breach of European privacy laws:
That alone should make you wonder about whether or not the FB upper management is playing nice with its users or not.
But what the "HN mob" is evaluating is what Facebook is actually doing, not each and every employee of the company as a person.
Ultimately, it's more important what Facebook's users think of the company, and what hackers who understand the technology that Facebook uses think of what they are doing, not what Facebook's business partners think of Facebook's employees and management.
(This is my opinion not fact.)
Yes, Facebook has wildly exceeded what most people expected. But to build a social honey pot isn't to inspire other hackers/entrepreneurs.
I don't wish them ill but I also don't take any inspiration from Zuckerberg/Facebook. In fact, I learnt many things not to do (i.e. screwing your founders, doing shady deals, making immature decisions, etc.). Interestingly, Facebook has succeeded so far in spite of doing those things. And I give more credit to Sheryl Sandberg than Zuckerberg.
So excuse me if I don't agree that the top-voted comment on this thread should be words of praise for Zuckerberg.
HN itself is a sort of social honeypot. But just look at what FB does with the information they collect.
They simply have no sense of restraint. And it all starts with Zuckerberg and his attitude.
That being said there seems to be quiet a bit of hubris around it as a company, much of which is likely not their fault and more based on the media attention which surrounds them. The 100B valuation (and all the previous funding round valuations) is a reflection on this. I think this is the first time where Facebook has to prove their value on an open market and all of us who have wondered what we're missing on those monster rounds get to see if we were right (or wrong) - and a lot of us like to be right....
Its a real interesting case study.
a). being birthed in Harvard (with all the clout, connections, mentoring and cachet that brings)
b). good timing (in terms of 2004 being long enough after the first dot com bust and before the crisis of 2008)
c). taking a fairly straight forward idea and improving on those before (live journal, myspace etc.)
The only cool thing about facebook as far as I'm concerned is the backend. Scaling a system to support 1 billion odd users is very cool and very interesting. Appreciating and respecting it on a technical level doesn't mean you have to appreciate Facebook "the whole", what it stands for or what it does. Also, just because it's an impressively engineered system doesn't mean it's worth 100+ billion dollars.
Edit: I guess I (and presumably some others) feel that the reward (a 100+ billion dollar valuation and 1000 millionaires created over night) doesn't immediately seem to translate to the effort spent getting there.
FFS, give the man (and the rest of his now giant team) some credit. $100B doesn't just happen.
Frankly, it almost goes without saying that if you and your team put together a system that handles a billion users, you deserve some credit. The question is simply: how much?
The other thing to note is that everything has gone right for Facebook. I don't believe that would have happened if their execution wasn't so fantastic. Major major props are due to Zuckerberg and the entire early team (and I find this hard to disagree with, regardless of whether one thinks it's worth $100B or not)
The stock exchange is a game where people bet on what the price will be in the future. Everything is based on perceived value, and there's no requirement to have any relationship to objective reality. I would wager that many of the people betting today do not themselves perceive that Facebook is "worth" $100B, but believe that there are others who perceive it is worth more.
But I take your point that there isn't really a strong connection between stock price and effort expended (although maybe there's more of an implied connection at the initial IPO price versus the share price a few months after trading). If I think about it a bit more, MZ and team are effectively bystanders in all this. It's not as if they got to decide the IPO price (if I've understood the process correctly i.e. the banks recommend the starting price?). Unfortunately, that's where my knowledge of high finance stops. Sometimes, I wish I'd taken a finance degree just to be equipped to understand the real game that's going on.
Edit: also half the problem is caused by assuming 1 billion users translates to anything meaningful. Apart from being an impressive number in its own right, what exactly does it mean? Facebook is free to use and helps satisfy basic human social desires in a digital way. Great but would they have 1 billion users if it wasn't free? No.
If I could distribute beer for free and and offered every male on the planet over the age of 18 a free keg, I'd probably have a billion takers.
Which internet company does, in your judgement?
$100,000,000,000 is a VERY big number. It feels almost absurd (to me at least) that a single company can create that much "value" in less than 8 years. But maybe I'm the one with the problem and I just can't get my head around "web scale" economics.
When I apply that logic to FB's 100bn valuation, it makes sense. Doesn't make us all look any less stupid though.
That's not mutually exclusive with respect for a lot of peoples honest hard work.
Because it's a boatload of money. Over twice the value of HP and almost half the value of Walmart. Slightly higher market cap than Amazon. It's absurd.
I think there is plenty of reason for cynicism. And I didn't know that HN readers were supposed to all be cut from the same bolt of cloth.
Do you think the "right" thing for the activists to do would be to support snake oil sales, so that they, the activists could have a better shot at selling their own snake oil as well?
Not all entrepreneurs are the same. Some of us are actually not trying to sell snake oil, and wouldn't even if we had the chance.
Then there is this HN thread today:
"As the founder of a small company in Chicago who only took $17k from YCombinator 6 years ago (YC-W06) and now runs a classic “lifestyle” business that support myself and a small team from client revenues, I find myself wavering between being fairly satisfied with the state of my business life to mild depression and jealousy that I’m not in a situation to be cashing in myself."
None of the above is a problem for a) the (positive) peanut gallery on HN or b) Angel investors or c) HN or d) VC's. They are either disconnected from the pain or have spread their risk among multiple companies at the psychological expense of the people who think of themselves of failures.
The support system for these failures is reading other people's cynicism and maybe by reading that some will be prevented from thinking this black swan event might actually be possible.
Edit: Above where I say c) "HN" I mean c) "YC"
Here's the problem: Facebook doesn't have time to "grow" into the valuation. They're worth that much to investors now. They need to prove that they are worth that kind of investment money. They need to prove that they can make the kind of money that $100+B companies make. Facebook made a TON of money today.
The size of the IPO is simply way out of scale with the actual company. Facebook had a net income of $1B last year. Companies that have market valuations around $100B make that much per month. Now, if Facebook's market cap was around $30B or $40B, I think everyone on HN would be celebrating their success, because that's a good valuation for a $1B/year company.
Not trying to nitpick on a post I mostly agree with, but the second half of that sentence would apply to late 2008, not 2012. Corporate profits are at record highs, the stock market has doubled off the lows, etc. It amazes me the denial of the phenomenal economic recovery of 2009.
If my family was on whatever other social network, I'd be there.
So perhaps we should discuss how FB actually got luck and got people to sign up instead of praising some innovative web services.
Hint: games and cat pictures.
For me, at least, that was the critical step - having a site that just worked.
but Facebook? not so much...
Seeing the sheer joy on Mark Zuckerberg's face was nice. I thought he was going to shed a tear, actually.
It's always inspiring to see a geek get his day.
Think of the effect that the Google IPO has had on access to angel and other investment capital. Two of my angels are former Googlers and my previous business was a vertical search sold right after Google IPO'd.
All our destinies are in one way or another wrapped up in this little ticker symbol for the next few years.
People who put money into Facebook early were hoping to get rich(er); they didn't do it out of the goodness our their heart. It's an SV fallacy that angels are, well, angels.
No, I'm much more concerned with the bets the fund in which my dad's union's retirement pension plan is coming from.
The best explanation I can come up with is that FB benefits from its massive base of engaged users. I imagine there are a great many individual investors who are torn between wanting to participate in "internet tech" and wanting to not invest in what they don't understand. FB comes along and I imagine many of them to reason "I use it all the time, therefore I understand it". I believe Microsoft has also benefited from this effect.
These people believe they are value investing, not playing the market.
Microsoft also sold products, and had a very strong revenue stream from that. Hype helped MS grow, but their core business fundamentals have traditionally been pretty strong.
Facebook seems overvalued by at least 300%, maybe more. A quick look at tech companies that have about $100 billion market cap(like Facebook), and the closest comparison I can come to is Oracle. Unfortunately, the comparison doesn't look good for Facebook.
Oracle's revenue for 2011 was around $35 billion, which is 10 times Facebook's. Net income was around $8.5 billion(from here: http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/investor-relations/financ... ). Facebook, according to their SEC filings, had a net income of $1 billion in 2011.
I think that Facebook's valuation is driven entirely by hype, which really means that the stock should perform quite well for the next 30-60 days, until Q2 earnings are released. At that point, I have a feeling that it will drop when investors realize that FB isn't pulling in nearly as much money as their stock is indicating.
To me a wake-up call was a huge investment that FB accepted from DST.
(As an example very few swimmers are probably jealous with Michael Phelps success because he totally earned it. )
In my opinion anyway, FB still seems to be in the "do something big, figure out how to profit from it later" stage. That's all well and good, but I don't know that it's $130+ per active user good.
How many ad banners are these people going to click? To put this in perspective, the initial valuation of $104B is over 2/3 the entire amount of money spent on all advertising in the US last year ($141B).
They could also use some of the IPO money to acquire Bing and somehow mold if with the Facebook.
I think that Facebook valuation is so high because of many possibilities similiar to those I've just outlined.
For all of Facebook's data collection, they don't seem to be able to do anything with it. To put it in perspective, I just logged onto facebook and got an ad from a company hiring coal miners. I'm asthmatic, despise big coal, currently employed, have cerebral palsy, and live three states away from this company. I could have targeted that ad better by randomly pulling a name from the phone book.
Other ads include:
* Beer - I don't drink
* Tickets to the Avengers - Okay, I do want to see that movie.
* Getting my Bachelor's Degree Online - I already have a master's degree. Facebook knows this
* Bait - While they get partial credit, since I enjoy camping, I'm not into hunting or fishing.
* Tequila - See above
* Lawn Fertilizer - I live in an apartment
* Airfare from Chicago to Oklahoma City - I don't live in Illinois or Oklahoma. Facebook knows this.
* Hunting Rifles - See above
* Vodka - See above
Conversely, Facebook should know that I'm attending a conference in DC next month, but there hasn't been any comments on restaurants or attractions in that area.
I don't deny that they have a lot of data. However, I think they're in the TiVo situation where the data simply isn't that interesting.
Let's say FB builds or buys a search engine, a popular web browser, a smartphone platform equivalent to Android, a Gigabit fiber-to-the-home project, and an AdvFace that takes 50% of that market away from Google.
If all that were to happen, then it might make sense for FB's valuation to be comparable to Google's. G's might even shrink a little bit to help.
But G has that all functioning now, whereas FB's seems merely hypothetical. Could we not equivalently reason that FB could start a P2P auction market to rival Ebay? A distribution channel to rival Amazon?
Sure, Facebook is full of clever hacks and nice features but the gas in that engine is the data happily supplied by their users, for the low low cost of free.
I haven't heard about facebook sniffing wi-fi packets though.
On the other hand, customers are far more free with their money. (but that doesn't help me as much as you'd think; My big weapon seems to be my willingness to accept a reasonable margin; e.g. I can lower my prices more than the competition. (yes, yes, amazon has lower costs than I do. But they also have more credibility, so that translates into margin rather than into savings for the end user.) For me, the big upside is that individual Engineers have more disposable income that can be put towards the 'hobby' budget, which is the budget most of my customers pay me out of.
I dono. I have a long history of crying 'bubble' long before the crash. I refused to buy a house in 1999 because I thought housing was a bubble.
Only recently have I started thinking about this bubble as something that would last long enough to take advantage of on the upside. I have pretty extensive plans to take advantage of a crash, but I'm only now considering how I can take advantage of the upside.
update: got my order filled. Maybe a mistake. Please go 'like' something.
"If FB can't make money, nothing can!"
The worse years I had were after the first bubble and the best years are during this bubble but I still feel the way you are describing.
but looks like now they're stepping in to support the price . . . financially good news for fb, pr-wise not so much.
Facebook has been trading for a while on secondmarket (a secondary market for 'qualified' investors). The prices have been pretty stable there. These people evaluate the markets in much the same way that every other trader does, and so their value calculation is going to be in line with what any 'real' trader might come up with.
Retail investors, the folks who made the dot com bubble so spectacular, have largely left the market as a mover. So any 'creative' valuations are probably not going to drive a lot of trades.
So trading on the NASDAQ opens up the process to retail investors but they aren't a significant factor, that leaves the more experienced investors and they have already valued the company and shown that on second market, so that the stock moves at all is probably more along the lines of the daily/monthly variations you might see in a Google or Apple or Groupon, rather than the sudden IPO pop of people who wanted to own the stock but were unable to get their hands on it.
That makes it a 'good' sign in the sense that the folks who valued the company in the secondary market were making pretty good guesses on the value. It is also another 'non-bubble' sign in the sense of over-exuberant participation by the retail investors.
Edit: replace 'going going' with 'not going'
This is simply a transfer of wealth between Wall Street and Facebook's major shareholders. (not a broad base at all)
It was made possible because Wall Street believed every Facebook user would try to get in on the action in the open market.
It turns out retail investors and Facebook users didn't join the anticipated mania and now, the valuation of the company is what Wall Street made it out to be and not much more.
In other words, from here on, Facebook's valuation and Wall Street's ROI will solely depend on Facebook's financial success. Obviously, for Wall Street, this is much slower and much more work than having a stock take off on the basis of a mania.
If the financials don't turn up in the next few quarters, watch out.
In the literal sense of "today", Facebook launched on kind of a crappy day. In the more expansive sense of "today", nobody's terribly optimistic right now. The US still hasn't pulled itself out of the hole, and current events in Greece and France have everybody wondering what happens next in what is collectively the world's largest economy.
Even without the unique features of Facebook's IPO, this isn't a great time to be looking for "pop" in anything.
Markets care a lot about sentiment. A nice 10-15% pop on the first day leaves everyone feeling pretty good - and a nice halo around the company.
If the price levels off.. Well people will be inclined to be more critical. They'll be wanting FB to start moving the stock north sooner.
I was a bit curious about the pricing. As you say, they want the maximum investment value, but there is some sense in buying the management team some time. A billion less may have saved them a lot of headaches dealing with market criticism, given them time to get some wins...
Anyway. It's a brave new world when you suddenly have to start answering to shareholders.
There are all sorts of responsibilities and duties for an exec (of a public company in particular) - but I'd assume the FB board is insured to the hilt.
Ultimately execs always answer to shareholders (i.e. they bring a return). Otherwise the market doesn't work - the market they've used to raise 16 billion... How this will manifest for FB now and in the future, I've got no idea.
One thing happy shareholders does give you is access to future capital. However, can't see that being a problem for a while yet.
Google's founders control the majority of Google's votes.
1. Stocks are never priced "appropriately" in the US. Companies rarely adopt the Google-style book-building process (kinda like an auction).
2. FB like others was placed privately. What incentive does an investor at the roadshow have to buy it before the markets open? The incentive is the probability (nay near-certaintly) of an opening day "pop".
3. It's common for underwriters to have a 180-day lock in periods for employees who want to sell their newly-public stock (Linkedin had it iirc). This is another way to increase demand for the shares sold during the roadshow.
And yet, big companies and time can change the rules. Google used the Dutch auction. Facebook has long been traded on non-public markets. Facebook also demanded lower fees from underwriters, and less first-day-pop 'money left on the table' for initial-distribution purchasers.
A negligible 'pop' could mean FB's strategy worked beautifully, capturing the maximum amount of capital for their own goals. It doesn't send the same signal as when another company, which needed more help from the underwriters and media, has a stable first-day price.
I would expect some movement up and down over the quarter until they deliver results. That is when we'll see the movement either way.
It definitely wasn't a mistake the first time, I watched it tumble from $8 down to $7.17 in reasonable intervals
$> ping us.etrade.com
PING us.etrade.com (126.96.36.199): 56 data bytes
Request timeout for icmp_seq 0
36 bytes from etrade-fina.edge4.atlanta2.level3.net (188.8.131.52): Communication prohibited by filter
Vr HL TOS Len ID Flg off TTL Pro cks Src Dst
4 5 00 5400 115d 0 0000 31 01 9939 10.0.232.100 184.108.40.206
Request timeout for icmp_seq 1
Request timeout for icmp_seq 2
Request timeout for icmp_seq 3
Request timeout for icmp_seq 4
--- us.etrade.com ping statistics ---
6 packets transmitted, 0 packets received, 100.0% packet loss
(etrade is an online brokerage service for independent traders, and their network is very unhappy right now.)
No, that's restriction.
edit: Not complaining. It seemed like an interesting accidental split test.
[I think; subjective analysis etc etc]
When you have good content and your luck is at its maximum.
That I didn't think about that way immediately probably says that you have a much closer relationship with the HN readership than I do. :-)
Hope this helps. :)
Some good stories posted on Hacker News are upvoted while some are not. Is it always the story or is the time when it's posted? The graph should tell. It follows these definitions:
- Newest stories top average score - is an average of six most voted stories on the HN newest page; indirectly, it measures the number of competing stories or the number of story submitters.
- News stories bottom average score - is an average of six least voted stories on the HN front page; indirectly, it measures the number of fresh stories or the number of story upvoters.
- Pickup ratio - is equal to Newest stories top average score divided by News stories bottom average score; indirectly, it measures what is your chance of getting from newest to the front page; you want a lot of upvoters to be upvoting and very few submitters to be submitting.
- Now it's ... time - gives four recommendations whether now is good time to submit or not. There are four possible values mapped to top four pickup ratio quantiles: very good, good, so-so, and bad.
This small web application is an amalgam of ETL, data mining, and visualization processes with focus on time series analysis. Data from other websites is gathered, enhanced, and presented as decision support tool. Source code is available at GitHub.
("Averge" instead of Average, "now it's bad time" instead of now it's a bad time)
Sorry to nitpick but that was what inmediately jumped at me.
HN link: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2022547
Regarding the accidental split test I think the "NASDAQ:FB" title is somehow more appealing.
Of course then we'd end up with flame threads where people say things like "we need a 'being an obtuse jerk' button for the OP."
2000 Shares at $42.05 (SELL)
Edit: $40 seems to be a barrier (not a surprise). It will take a little while for all the limit orders to be satisfied there.
...not that we need another zerohedge link, but this makes it obvious
FB order execution slowness
Certain marketplaces are experiencing slowness resulting in delays in execution for Facebook orders. Industry technology teams outside of Fidelity are working to correct the problem. This slowness is being experienced by other online brokers as well, not just Fidelity. This has been reported as a market-wide issue. We do not yet know when the problem will be resolved. We appreciate your patience.
A valuation of a whole $4 million!
The only folks left are the normal folks and I don't believe they have the money to drive the price up significantly.
In short: this is a liquidity event for Facebook ownership and nothing else.
Here is a description of the process for ETrade: https://us.etrade.com/e/t/prospectestation/help?id=130105000...
In general it's usually harder to get allocations but not as hard as you imagine - retail investors always seem to get some.
If that's a failure then I hope one day to fail that badly.
NOTE: IPO had 480 million or so stocks, and the net Volume was 486 million.
It went to $40 its now back to where it started. Things volatile at this moment.
Is this possibly a scary thought for the future in terms of job creation? If you can be on track to becoming the biggest communications (and advertising) provider on the planet whilst employing close to nobody, what happens if other industries end up following this model?