Facebook Needs a Mother

by francine Hardaway on December 2, 2007


Facebook needs a mom. I know this because I am one, and I always can tell when some bright young thing who thinks it’s immortal is going to go out in the rain without an umbrella or leave it’s sweater home. Or not get enough sleep.

I just read Dan Farber’s blog, after disagreeing with Jeremiah about whether Facebook has had its day. Jeremiah thinks not, because the number of users is climbing. I think it has, because at this point, when there is already competition, it’s no longer about users but about how to make money from those users.

Jeremiah’s source argues that Facebook might be worth $100b. However, sooner or later, that valuation has to be justified by ad revenues, and the current controversy will spook traditional advertisers, who rightfully want to avoid controversy over privacy concerns. They will wait it out to see what the users think.  And the younger users may not care about their privacy, but the growth is coming from older users who might.

It seems to me Dan’s closer to the mark:

"If Facebook keeps running into or creating the pockets of bad air, the
popular sentiment that has given the brash upstart a giant hall pass
and theoretical worthiness of $15 billion will fade away."

Yep. The users may not leave, but the advertisers will, and then Facebook will just be a big group of unwilling disorganized humanity. There are many places to go to find that. I’m sure Coke already knows where. That’s why it puts vending machines in subways.

I think if Facebook is smart, it will remove its PR people from control and get itself a mature CEO immediately. Maybe a guy who looks like Farber. Or maybe a middle-aged woman who can tell it when to put its seatbelt on.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Merlin Ward December 2, 2007 at 5:59 pm

I couldn’t agree more with this stance. Although its nice of Facebook to make their advertising “pages” free (I created one for the Club E Network) but its very lame that its opt-in. Only the really passionate brand folks will seek their products out. It doesn’t make any impressions on the consumer who don’t know, which defeats the purpose of advertising! Coke already sits on the shelves of millions of stores waiting to be bought. Why would they want to wait for someone to become a fan online?

steve epstein December 3, 2007 at 10:58 am

Great post Francine:
Facebook is now a collision of the college kids on it, the high school kids who joined the 2nd wave, and now the parents/ Net foggies.
yes, Facebook is facing its Apple in the 80’s moment…..

francine hardaway December 3, 2007 at 11:13 am

Well, let’s see…Scoble shared it and you commented. I must be right :-) For whatever it’s worth.

Lilyhill December 3, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Oh, Francine, being a parent myself I know exactly what you mean. I’ve just dealt with an organization where the “parents” got tired of the antics and have walked away. The kids are still there, thinking “wahoo,no one to tell us what to do!” Like paying the bills, which they are now struggling to do. “Unwilling disorganized humanity” is exactly right.

francine hardaway December 3, 2007 at 3:23 pm

There’s actually a sign on a stairway at the FB headquarters that says “Keep it clean. Your mother doesn’t work here,” or words to that effect. Perhaps she should :-)

Donna Papacosta December 3, 2007 at 3:37 pm

I love your analogy. It’s perfect.
A fellow MOM,

QoueenofSpain December 3, 2007 at 4:06 pm

I love this post. VERY well put. I’ve got several hundred volunteers (including myself) if they decide to grow up and listen to their mother :)

Mark Stoneman December 4, 2007 at 1:39 pm

It’s recent screw-up with Beacon made the student paper at George Mason University. It is the site that most of my students visit most often every day, so why would Facebook go so far as to annoy those people who are notoriously unconcerned about their privacy? When you cross your main user base you have really stepped in it.

Your comment about advertisers makes a lot of sense though. And since when do users automatically translate into revenue? That’s a problem the excellent BlogCatalog is still grappling with.

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