Has the Social Media #Bubble Popped? #sm #IPO #Facebook

I posted earlier on the debacle of the Facebook IPO and some longer-term considerations in respect of the valuation and staying-power of these early-generation social media brands. And they are early-generation. Part of the problem we are facing is that we are in the throes of exponential change. One thing that means is that we have faced dramatic shifts, which we are tempted to see as lasting and offering us a fresh gently-rising plateau as we look ahead. The fact that the exponential, disruptive bombs are getting bigger every day is too hard to grasp. So we don’t try. So we behave dumb. (Yes, there’s a book there to explain what I’m on about; and yes, I am working on it, so there. Back off, plagiarizers, but join the convo!)


1. In general, this is early early days. Which makes future-scoping (a) very hard, and (b) very necessary. More of both (a) and (b) every day.

2. We’re talking about the brands/companies that have been quick out of the box in, essentially, social media round 2. Round 1 was shaped and dominated by AOL; its curious corporate survival and the bizarre Time takeover blur our capacity to reflect on how  revolutionary was Steve Case’s invention ( which has pretty much defined everything social since; Zuck owes him big. . . .). The key brands of the past decade have been awarded huge valuations on the naive assumption that the barriers to entry will remain high and that interoperability and utility status is not around the corner. Yeah, right.

3. As we look ahead, we see multiple converging streams that include “social” a la Facebook, social marketing leading to profound shifts in “social business,” CSR/social enterprise parallel and convergent developments as a subset of the foregoing, Gov. 2.0 (3.0), wholly new developments in global governance (of which more in another post), and . . . well, point is, we have just begun. It’s why Facebook and Google, qua biz model and tech trailblazers, are so important. It’s why, qua brands, they will be proved to have been relatively insignificant.

4. While we are at it: Facebook’s curious upcoming vote on a privacy change reminds us that, ultimately, social networks will be mutually owned and driven by crowd-sourced decision-making. I am actually astonished that Zuck (whom I greatly admire) has not tumbled to this. But one thing one learns is that innovators are often successful precisely because they don’t see most of the context, rather than because they do.

The future is social. But that social is not ad-driven, privacy-destroying, IP-wielding, reaping economic profit. It is in general mutualized, open-sourced, and ultimately a thrilling constantly innovating utility environment for much human activity. Getting there is messy, but since when was getting anywhere worthwhile not?





The Social Media Bubble has Popped.

9 Responses to “Has the Social Media #Bubble Popped? #sm #IPO #Facebook”
  1. Jamie says:

    Though the levels look really simple, they are actually quite challenging.

    Just last year Apple sold more than one hundred
    million i – Phone and i – Pad apps. Moreover, there you
    could also play Scrabble in the internet, TV game shows or game consoles.

  2. I think we’re still closing in on something really scary and it has less to do with Facebook and more to do with the valuation of companies that aren’t making any money (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest). Facebook did something we’ve never seen before: They valued themselves correctly and didn’t leave any money on the table during the IPO.

    But when you remove them from the equation (they are actually making LOTS of money), we’re seeing the same thing we saw in 2000 – investors are paying for eyeballs. And that makes me very, very nervous.

    • Thanks, Gini!

      You’re undoubtedly right that this is Eyeballs the Remake. But I throw Fb in the pot. Their valuation makes sense only with assumptions about the future that seem to me naive.

      Which is one reason I am looking to smart people to come up with innovative governance/financing models in the social space that give due reward to innovators (no-one needs to be a billionaire), protect from short-term market forces, and embody shared governance with users. Otherwise this really isn’t social at all.

      • I like this idea… a lot. It makes sense to reward those who aren’t necessarily going to build the next Facebook, but have incredibly built companies. I can think of one immediately! 🙂

  3. “social” is simply collective consciousness brought into conscious awareness …

    love your point that “social is not ad-driven, privacy-destroying, IP-wielding, reaping economic profit” …. those are the signs that something is NOT social ..

    enjoy the shift


    • Thank you, and very neatly put. While the form in which “social” has initially been manifested has been tied in with certain (rather clunky) business models, my point about this being early, early days is central. There are various aspects of our humanness which intersect with commerce and other economic activities, but the more “human” they are the less they can be reduced to them – of which the prime example of course is the family, the least interesting thing about which is that it is an economic unit. The economic status and activities of families are in general far less significant than their fundamental commonalities.

      So it will be as “social” emerges as the capacity of humans and their many types of organization, including business organizations, to engage in a way that transcends the traditional dynamics of human communities.

      To put this a slightly different way, the business implications of social are large and will only get larger. But businesses are going to have to grasp that that significance is much greater than can be contained by said business models.

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  2. […] depends on building authentic, natural social relationships. As Nigel Cameron recently remarked in a recent blog post, “The future is social. But that social is not ad-driven, privacy-destroying, IP-wielding, […]

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