After launching the biggest IPO in Internet history, Facebook has a lot to celebrate. But the question remains of how going public will affect Facebook’s future. Remember when Myspace and Friendster were cool, then along came Facebook? Are the same turn of events in store for Facebook or does it have an advantage over other social media networks that will prevent history from repeating itself?
Now that Facebook has become an enormous corporation, it must work to maintain its status. Jennifer Van Grove, a writer for VentureBeat, believes that Facebook’s extensive user base (901 million active monthly users as of March) will play in its favor. Many Facebook users have developed an emotional attachment to the brand - this means that the ‘average joes’ of the world may be even more likely to invest in the company - a plus for Facebook in maintaining its cool status.
On the flip side, some are saying that going public is a sure way for Facebook to become “uncool.” CNN points out a few things that might have contributed to Facebook’s decline thus far. Issues like users becoming aware of how much information is being collected from them when using the site, the recent phenomenon of parents and grandparents joining Facebook and the fact that the once geeky character, Mark Zuckerberg, has morphed into a billionaire. The company culture has been changing and going public changes it even more.
Speaking of a game changer, Bianka Bosker from the Huffington post suggests that users will find themselves paying to use the service in the near future. This brings up an important question: Can Facebook turn its users into more cash without turning them away? It’s debatable, but I think not. The reality is that as Facebook becomes public its overall identity and purpose may change too.
Only time will tell how the Facebook IPO will play out, but if Facebook does lose its wow factor, where will users go? VentureBeat’s Van Grove thinks Pinterest, Path and Tumblr might be in the running. These networks seem like they have potential to be the next big thing, but this might be difficult to accomplish as Facebook continues to gain power.
Many agree that Facebook will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Nick Bilton of the New York Times asks us to consider this: “ Facebook is omnipotent in the land of social media and, by some accounts, can control which applications rise to fame and which fade into oblivion.” Facebook currently connects users to 9 million apps and services. Think of a world without Facebook and you get a world without Draw Something, Instagram and millions of others. The New York Times suggests that Facebook controls who wins and loses in the application world. With its growing power, it is unlikely that the network will be disappearing. However, it may be moving away from the photo sharing and keeping up with friends mentality.