10.30.2007

Facebook is Not the Next Google

Microsoft recently bought a stake in Facebook that puts Facebook's
market valuation into the tens of billions, making founder Mark
Zuckerberg look awfully smart for turning down $1 billion last year.
As a member since 2005, I've found the site to be a delightfully
entertaining way to keep in touch with friends and an awfully
interesting mechanism to observe social networks.

But the Economist rightly points out the Facebook isn't the next
Google: http://economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9990635&CFID=18941739&CFTOKEN=19080171.

Importantly, these and other social networks don't have the same kind
of multiplier effect as things like fax machines, where the more
people that are in, the more being in is worth. Most Facebook users
will attest that all the information and users can get a bit
overwhelming, extra noise that distracts from rather than enhances the
networking experience.

Contrast Facebook with Ning, a hot new generator of now 100,000 social
networks, which allows users to create their own groups within groups,
so they can socialize amongst one another. I'm not a user myself
(although, incidentally, I went to junior high with one of the
co-founders), but I'm told this function is less clunky than
Facebook's groups function, which are either too siloed, too broad, or
just plain silly. In fact, you're already starting to see
mini-Facebooks pop up that serve just this purpose: big corporations
are setting up sites for staff and alum, and there is at least one,
invite-only site for the rich and famous.

In the meantime, I'll keep friending people on Facebook and checking
out their goings-on on my news feed. But I'm appreciative of the
Economist for providing some context to Facebook's recent massive
run-up.

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