19 May, 2012



Do not despair: Facebook revenue — and its share price — are just at the beginning

Posted: 18 May 2012 02:28 PM PDT

So, Facebook is now public, and it got off to the most unimaginable and inauspicious start, losing $4 between the NASDAQ’s opening and closing bells.

But don’t go jumping out any windows just yet.

There’s no question that the IPO defied expectations in the worst way possible (well, perhaps not the worst), offering at $38 and closing just a few cents higher at $38.37. Even our more conservative sources thought trading would close in the low $40s.

But while the numbers are, as one candid entrepreneur expressed it, “a total crapshoot,” almost everyone we spoke to was quick to point out that both Facebook’s revenues and its stock price are still very much in their infancy.

“This is an eight-year-old company,” pointed out Rebecca Lieb, an Altimeter Group analyst. “When Google went public, they had only recently developed ad products. Facebook is at the beginning of mobile products, advertising products — and it hasn’t even started with commerce products.”

“Facebook has just scratched the surface of its revenue and advertising,” said Menlo Ventures managing director Mark Siegel. “They’re going to grow with a much more diverse income stream than what they have today.”

Siegel, who bought shares today and said he plans to hang onto them, concluded, “I think Facebook is a good long-term investment.”

Facebook’s shaky standing with advertisers has been troubling, especially as one high-profile advertiser packed up and went home just days before the IPO.

The Facebook IPO

Shares were priced at $38

Bad sign: GM pulls out of Facebook ads

Facebook employees celebrated the IPO with a hackathon

On IPO day, the company gets slapped with a privacy lawsuit

Facebook stock slides, taking other tech stocks with it

Analysts warn us: This one won’t pop

Facebook closes at a disappointing $38

This move and related stats prompted highly unfavorable statements from experts. For example, Pace University marketing professor Larry Chiagouris said, “The Facebook IPO is … likely to be a disappointment to all the new investors. This is because its real financial value is tied to its marketing value, and the marketing community is increasingly recognizing that Facebook is of very limited value as a marketing tactic.”

But Lieb said a lot of the angst around Facebook’s ad performance has to do with the fact that agencies and marketers are still figuring out how to use Facebook’s tools.

“It’s a completely different form of online advertising,” Lieb said, stating that Google’s ad network had previously defined a search-based paradigm for online advertising. But as we shift from search-based online behavior to social networking, she said, “Advertisers still have to figure out how to work in these environments. It’s not just about a display ad.

“It’s a brand new form of advertising and marketing, but I don’t think it’s at all mature yet,” the analyst concluded.

While advertisers need to do better at making Facebook marketing work, Facebook needs to do better at indicating to brands, investors, and the public where its revenue is going to come from.

“Facebook will crash and burn unless the company can better communicate where it is going with its business,” said investor relations communications expert Jeff Corbin. “The people who will suffer will be those caught up in the frenzy and purchase Facebook stock [today] at what will probably be a high.”

Still, every social media expert between here and Timbuktu has come forward with thoughtful and creative ways for Facebook to make money. All Facebook has to do now is figure out how to capitalize on at least one of them without compromising users’ data and privacy, thus losing the userbase that makes Facebook value in the first place.

“Facebook is a highly creative and deeply resourced company that has the potential to develop wonderful products,” said Lieb.

“Are they gonna do it? We hope so.”

Filed under: deals, VentureBeat

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For Facebook, life ain’t nothin’ but glitches and IPOs

Posted: 18 May 2012 02:25 PM PDT

Facebook appears on the NASDAQ's big New York billboard.

In addition to being one of the largest initial public offerings ever, Facebook’s IPO drew so much interest that the system couldn’t keep up with demand.

Facebook expected to make its public debut at 8 a.m. PT this morning, but trading took an extra half-hour to get underway. While details weren’t provided, Bloomberg was able to confirm that NASDAQ was experiencing a delay.

The Wall Street Journal reported that traders were unable to confirm changes or cancellations made to Facebook orders as early as 4:30 a.m. PT. Once trading did begin, traders were unable to get a confirmation on if they got the stock at the intended price. These glitches ended up putting the social network giant’s stock price into a slump, which caused a sinking reaction among other tech stocks.

It’s possible the glitches were due to the extremely large volume of trades — over 460 million shares traded (with nearly half of those happening within the first two hours). NASDAQ was unavailable for comment about the glitches at the time of publication.

So lets recap: Facebook’s IPO was one of the largest ever, generated so much activity the system couldn’t keep up, and caused other industry stocks to mimic its behavior. However, all that demand didn’t translate to a great first day for the stock, which closed at $38.06, down $4 from where it opened.

But the company’s largest stakeholder and chief executive showing up to the bell ringing in a hoodie rather than stuffy business attire? That was no big deal. (To test this theory, Twitter’s largest shareholders should wear Jedi robes and plastic light sabers when it goes public.)

Photo via NASDAQ live feed video

Filed under: deals, social

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And now, here’s Zuckerberg riding the Wall Street bull, impaling investors

Posted: 18 May 2012 02:00 PM PDT

Leave it up to Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese firm known for its wacky news videos, to create the only Facebook IPO wrap-up that’s actually worth watching.

Sure, this Facebook wrap-up features a dead-eyed Zuckerberg riding the Wall Street bull and mowing down investors, but hey, at least they got the numbers right. As a bonus, you can also see Google’s co-founders taking a ride on a space elevator.

Facebook opened up trading at $42 this morning after pricing its stock at $38 last night. The stock didn’t go up much throughout the day, and it slowly fell to just $38.06 by the end of trading today. That didn’t surprise Wall Street analysts, as we’ve reported, but it may have come as a shock to Silicon Valley insiders who expected the stock to blow up today.

Filed under: offBeat, social, VentureBeat

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Facebook amends S-1 with share allotments for IPO underwriters

Posted: 18 May 2012 01:57 PM PDT

Mark Zuckerberg rings the opening bell on the company's first day of trading

Facebook released the amount of shares allocated to each of its underwriters today, following its less-than-stellar IPO day.

The company went public on the Nasdaq to an EKG-like performance, ending in a .38 cent gain today. The update came in an amendment to the company’s prospectus following the close of the market. Along with Facebook’s tumultuous trading, a number of other tech companies’ share prices fell today, including Zynga’s which had to be halted.

The total number of shares allocated to underwriters amounted to 421,233,615, with Morgan Stanley leading the group with 162,174,942 shares now worth over six billion dollars. Morgan Stanley was followed by J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Barclays.

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC      162,174,942   
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC      84,878,573   
Goldman, Sachs & Co.      63,185,042   
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated      27,380,185   
Barclays Capital Inc.      27,380,185   
Allen & Company LLC      8,424,672   
Citigroup Global Markets Inc.      9,477,755   
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC      9,477,755   
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.      9,477,755   
RBC Capital Markets, LLC      4,212,336   
Wells Fargo Securities, LLC      4,212,336   
Blaylock Robert Van LLC      673,974   
BMO Capital Markets Corp.      421,234   
C.L. King & Associates, Inc.      631,850   
Cabrera Capital Markets, LLC      421,234   
CastleOak Securities, L.P.      673,974   
Cowen and Company, LLC.      421,234   
E*TRADE Securities LLC      210,617   
Itaú BBA USA Securities, Inc.      210,617   
Lazard Capital Markets LLC      421,234   
Lebenthal & Co., LLC      673,974   

Loop Capital Markets LLC

M.R. Beal & Company      673,974   
Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc.      421,234   
Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc.      673,974   
Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.      421,234   
Pacific Crest Securities LLC      421,234   
Piper Jaffray & Co.      421,234   
Raymond James & Associates, Inc.      421,234   
Samuel A. Ramirez & Company, Inc.      631,850   
Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated      421,234   
The Williams Capital Group, L.P.      589,727   
William Blair & Company, L.L.C.      421,234   

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Can you buy good Karma? Facebook just did

Posted: 18 May 2012 01:37 PM PDT

Buying its way into social commerce, Facebook has acquired mobile gifting app Karma for an undisclosed sum.

“We're thrilled to announce that Karma has been acquired by Facebook. The service that Karma provides will continue to operate in full force,” the Karma team announced in a blog post late Friday.

San Francisco-based Karma offers an intelligent way to get ideas and send gifts to friends and family members. It pulls in data from Facebook to determine demographic information and recommend the most appropriate gifts for your loved ones.

The service, launched in February on iPhone and Android, is just months old, meaning that something about the company’s gifting technology or mobile appeal really hit a nerve with Facebook.

VentureBeat writer Jolie O’Dell was thoroughly impressed with Karma when she covered the company’s recent launch. “The design of the app itself is masterful; it's a joy to look at and a pleasure to use,” she wrote. “But more important than the façade is the architecture of the content. Each gift you'll find on Karma was hand-selected, tested by curators, and photographed and reviewed by the Karma team.”

Of course, the acquisition underscores Facebook’s dire need to monetize its 488 million monthly active users on mobile. The apps, which come with baked-in money-making potential, could provide the social network with an important new revenue stream.

“We’ve been really impressed with the Karma team and all they accomplished in such a short time,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “This acquisition combines Karma's passion and innovative mobile app with Facebook's platform to help people connect and share in new and meaningful ways.”

Before being acquired by Facebook, Karma raised $4.5 million in funding from firms and Angels, including Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Twitter founders Biz Stone and Ev Williams' Obvious Fund.

The deal closed Friday and was announced after market close on Facebook’s first day of trading.

Filed under: deals, social

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Facebook disappoints on its opening day, closing down $4 from where it opened

Posted: 18 May 2012 01:02 PM PDT

At the end of Facebook’s first day of public trading, its shares were selling for around 9.5 percent less than their opening price.

By the time the closing bell rang, the stock ticker symbol FB sat at $38.37, according to NASDAQ’s final stats, down from its $42 opening price and about even with its original offering price of $38.

Analysts who had previously been bullish on Facebook are surprised. Early investors are disappointed. And social media enthusiasts are at least somewhat shocked.

“Our Private Shares Group traded stock the week before the first S-1 at $45, and we did a lot of volume. The market clearly supported a share price in the $40s,” said Michael Pachter, managing director for equity research at Wedbush Securities.

“But Facebook showed a sequential decline in revenue in Q1, so it is likely that some investors were spooked and began to question the company's growth prospects,” he continued.

“I have a $44 one-year price target, so it's a great investment below that level, not as good an investment above that level.”

The Facebook IPO

Shares were priced at $38

Bad sign: GM pulls out of Facebook ads

Facebook employees celebrated the IPO with a hackathon

On IPO day, the company gets slapped with a privacy lawsuit

Facebook stock slides, taking other tech stocks with it

Analysts warn us: This one won’t pop

Calling the $38 price “fair,” Dunn & Bradstreet tech expert Lee Simmons said before the closing bell, “Facebook was less likely to rocket out of the gates on opening day… My educated guess places Facebook comfortably above the top-end of its price range on Friday.”

Still, touting the site’s billion-strong userbase, investors are pegging Facebook stock as a good bet for the long haul.

“I think it is a good long-term investment,” said Mark Siegel, managing partner at Menlo Ventures. “The nature of the product itself makes it difficult to be displaced … I think it’s that kind of a core, bellwether company in a tech sector. It’s gotten there remarkably fast, but it’s there.”

However, Siegel noted he expected short-term “volatility” in Facebook’s performance and said there is “no way, not a chance” it would see the eight-fold growth that competitor Google has had since its 2004 IPO.

“There’s going to be a lot of crazy demand by people, but I don’t think it’s going to get to $60 [any time soon],” the VC continued. “In the next couple of years, it might trade at $60 per share, but … I think institutional investors would start getting heartburn before it got up that high.”

But this low closing price isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Facebook, points out Gartner analyst Ray Valdez.

“Well-managed IPOs reward initial sellers (early investors and the company itself) with robust prices that don’t leave too much money on the table,” he said.

“Facebook’s revenue model is still a work in progress. The mobile sector will remain a challenge for Facebook in the short-term. Over the long-term, Facebook has a good chance of cracking the code of monetizing user engagement across platforms, but accomplishing this will require significant innovation in both business and technology domains.”

David-Michel Davies, president of The Webby Awards and co-founder of Internet Week New York, had the honor of ringing the closing bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange. “There’s been a huge focus on … what this means for the future of the web and what this means for other IPOs,” he told us in a phone conversation.

And despite the social network’s inauspicious debut, Davies and millions like him remain optimistic about the future of Facebook and of other, smaller social media companies.

“At the end of the day, it’s hard to overstate how important social is to the web. We’re living in a world where people have changed behaviors in a significant way. People now will start their day in a social environment and make a lot of important decisions for their life there — what to buy, what to eat, where to go at night, what books to read.

“It’s a really big change, and it’s not going away. … This is definitely a big moment, and this IPO showcases how big that change is.”

We’re honoring FB at the Webbies on Monday. … It won the Webby for people’s vote for social change.

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Amazeballs: This anti-gravity ball can remember your touch

Posted: 18 May 2012 12:54 PM PDT

ZeroN ball

Is it just me, or does it feel like the “future” we all see in TV shows and movies is getting closer and closer to reality? A team of researchers at MIT have created a small atmosphere, the ZeroN, where you can interact with objects floating in your own space. This could be the potential birth of a live user interface where we can touch, instruct, and play with objects and images in the air.

Lee, who researches with MIT’s Tangible Media Group, created the ZeroN, a small, unenclosed space that uses electromagnets to suspend a ball in mid-air. The ball (and the space holding it) can remember a human’s touch and mimic the movement in space. The ball can also move along per-programmed paths that are fed to the magnet and the machine holding the magnet using software.

“Even if the user moves the ZeroN to a different position, the system can re-stabilize and keep the ZeroN suspended,” said researcher Jihna Lee said in a video about the ZeroN

It can also act as a camera, recording 3D objects in its space, as well as work with a light source, showing how shadows would exist in real life on small models.

The magnet moves the ball, pulling and repelling it dependent on where it is commanded to go. The whole system exists on an arm that moves the magnet up and down and side to side, increasing the distance it can travel. The researchers used a “hall sensor,” which is constantly checking the ball’s position to record its movements.

“Our body and minds have developed great capacities for understand and manipulating physical environments,” said Lee. “The long-term vision is to embed computation and physical materials that can directly interact with us. In this way, we seek to redefine the relationships humans have with materials, space and digital information.”

The design industry could benefit from the technology, being able to build and interact with 3D models that can move and be manipulated without having to program it first into a computer. And as FastCo.Design points out, it could lead to even cooler inventions such as floating holograms that we can wrap around our arms and move in mid-air like Ironman.

Check out a video of the technology below. It’ll basically blow your mind.

via FastCo.Design

Filed under: VentureBeat

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The road to IPO: Here’s how Facebook grew from $3.50 to $38 a share

Posted: 18 May 2012 12:50 PM PDT

It’s official: Facebook is a public company.

With all the hype around Facebook’s big day and the obsession with who’s-getting-rich numbers, its easy to forget to that we’ve had a front row view of Facebook’s ascendance to $38 a share, thanks to trading activity on secondary markets. One such market, SecondMarket, reminds us all of the social network’s humble beginnings with an illustrative timeline spanning the past four years.

“[Secondary markets] played a very important role in determining the ultimate price,” Sterne Agee senior analyst Arvind Bhatia told VentureBeat. “Facebook knew where the stock price was, and knew that there was appetite at those levels.”

Taking a nostalgic cue from Facebook Timeline, SecondMarket’s timeline takes us all the way back to April 2008 when the company was first contacted by a former Facebooker looking to offload shares and gain liquidity. It then walks us all the up until IPO day with a timeline of the Facebook’s historical pricing, acquisitions, and key product releases.

Back in 2008, Facebook was still four years away from going public, so would-be traders had little way of knowing that shares would add roughly $35 in value in the years ahead. In fact, it wasn’t until mid 2010 when the value of Facebook started to pick up, but by the end of the year Facebook was trading at $21.32 a share with a $49 billion valuation.

SecondMarket’s timeline even includes a breakdown of sellers and buyers by type and location. For instance, 86.4 percent of SecondMarket sellers were former Facebook employees, 27.5 percent of buyers were asset managers, and another 27.5 percent hedge fund buyers.

Now that Facebook is in Wall Street hands, we wonder: Can Facebook be cool as a public company?

Filed under: social

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Facebook alumni startup funding up 137 percent over last year

Posted: 18 May 2012 12:48 PM PDT

Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif. campus sports a big "Like" signMark Zuckerberg and his current employees aren’t the only ones making it big in Silicon Valley today. Former Facebook employees who have struck out on their own and started companies — referred to as the Facebook Mafia — have collectively raised a total of $271 million in funding since 2006, according to a report from venture capital database CB Insights.

In the first five months of 2012, Facebook Mafia companies have raised $130 million. That translates to a 137 percent increase over 2011′s funding totals.

Greylock Partners, an early investor in Facebook, has invested in three startups founded by former Facebook companies, making it the most active VC for the Facebook Mafia. Other Facebook Mafia investors include big names such as Benchmark Capital, First Round Ventures, and SV Angel. CB Insights reports 67 different investors have given capital to at least one Facebook Mafia company.

The Facebook Mafia includes Path founder Dave Morin; Quora founders Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever; Dustin Moskovitz, who started Asana; and Ruchi Sanghvi, Facebook’s first women engineer who left the copany to start Cove. Quora just raised a $50 million investment, showing that funding for Facebook alumni companies is alive and well.

Now that Facebook has begun trading on the public market, you can bet there will be more Facebook employees cashing in and starting their own companies. If the funding growth from 2012 is any indication, investors will be keen on throwing more money at startups that emerge from the hacker-focused company.

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GamesBeat Weekly Roundup

Posted: 18 May 2012 11:59 AM PDT

Diablo III collectors edition giveaway review contest free

If you follow VentureBeat but don't regularly check our GamesBeat site, here's a list of the best games stories we ran over the last seven days that you may have missed.

This week, Diablo III launched and promptly caused a stir with persistent server issues, Activision and Electronic Arts settled over the Infinity Ward lawsuit, and former N-Control sales specialist Paul Christoforo revealed details in his lawsuit over the Avenger controller debacle.

You’ll also find reviews for Max Payne 3 and Game of Thrones, as well as a preview for Zombie Swipeout. GamesBeat’s guide to Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is also available.

Other GamesBeat stories included:

The DeanBeat: Can Microsoft's Kinect gain cred from hardcore gamers?

With Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Sony hopes to bring a classic character to the PS3

Slicing zombies and chasing coins in Zombie Swipeout (preview)

Epic unveils Unreal Engine 4 for eye-popping next-generation game graphics

Aeria Games' Ignite service connects free-to-play gamers in over 30 countries

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 stages coming to HD remake

Activision and EA settle Infinity Ward lawsuit

Ratings board wants parents to think twice before buying that video game

God of War Ascension multiplayer features over-the-top show-off killings

New DC Universe Online expansion on the way, Mark Hamill returning as the Joker

Max Payne 3 suffers multiplayer issues, Rockstar responds

Minecraft digs upwards and becomes most-played Xbox Live Arcade title

The Last of Us demo shows brutal, dramatic survivalist combat

Call of Duty co-founder reveals his new, free-to-play shooter

Gamers rip Diablo III a new hellhole on Metacritic

Max Payne 3 is a glimpse into the future of video games (review)

World exclusive Diablo III review!!!!

Game of Thrones brings the pain…and not in a good way (review)

How a lucky fan became an Uncharted character

Former N-control sales specialist Christoforo claims company threw him under the bus

Witcher dev CD Projekt Red hiring for "new and different" role-playing game

New Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 info

Minecraft (Xbox 360 Edition): Tips, tricks, and achievement guide

(Updated with new pictures) Student reveals the origins of his real-life Portal turret


Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda on broadening Kinect games to hardcore fans (interview)

The EA-Activision legal feud takes unexpected twists

6 reasons E3 might suck this year

Mobile startup Fun Machine believes games can do social good

CrowdStar expands into China and South Korea with mobile game partners

Conversion rates up, spending habits down among social gamers

Starting with a graphic novel, The Inventor will chronicle the life of Nikola Tesla (exclusive)

AMD contends its split-personality PC brains are better than Intel's

Zynga acquires Wild Needle casual game maker for an estimated $3.8M

Nvidia teams with Intellectual Ventures to acquire patents

Walmart.com strikes again: more mind-boggling game descriptions

Former Xbox 360 exec's $1B pain and advice to entrepreneurs

If Walmart.com's horrible copy writers were to describe 2012′s biggest games…

Filed under: games

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Can Facebook stay cool now that it’s an enormous public corporation?

Posted: 18 May 2012 10:15 AM PDT

facebook the new walmart

“A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars,” Sean Parker says in the famous line from “The Social Network.”

Trite though the line may be, Facebook, valued at $104 billion, is in the process of minting billionaires and millionaires — and that’s pretty darn cool. But as a public company, Facebook is on the cusp of becoming so utterly unavoidable that it risks diving off the cliff of coolness into the waters of overexposure.

In talking with experts, analysts, and Facebook users on the topic of Facebook’s cool factor, we found two pretty distinct camps. Facebook is either fly enough to become the next Apple and maintain its allure as it takes over world, or it’s already years past its cool prime.

Let’s consider the arguments, shall we?

Facebook the trendsetter

Wearing white after Labor Day may be ill-advised, but there are a select few who can make this fashion “don’t” an unforgettable “do.” Does Facebook belong to the small pool of consumer technology companies that can wear white year-round?

I put the question to senior Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia who laughed at the notion that Facebook would lose any of its cool vibe by becoming a public company. “Apple didn’t stop being cool,” he said.

In fact, as Bhatia and a few of my friends pointed out, because Facebook has such an expansive user base who feel an emotional attachment to the platform, there’s a large population of regular Joes and Janes who believe so strongly in the company that they’ll become retail investors and buy shares in the company just because they know and love Facebook. For these people, Facebook’s offering will only increase its coolness, Bhatia said.

And then there’s Facebook’s “Hacker Way,” a company commitment to coding, risk-taking, and product-building that may clash with Wall Street’s expectations. Even CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as a strong-willed, hoodie-wearing youngster, appears indifferent to investors expectations. There’s something inherently cool about a company and its leader telling the world “f*ck it, we’ll do as we see fit,” and throw an all-night hackathon on the eve of the IPO.

Or, as Bhatia more eloquently put it, “Facebook, I believe, will move forward with its current strategy of putting the user first … Facebook will sacrifice short-term results for user experience.”

He’s not alone in his way of thinking. “I definitely still think it has a cool factor left … Facebook still has the young and hip edge,” Peter Adriaens, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan's Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, told VentureBeat.

Adriaens, just like Bhatia, likened Facebook to Apple, which maintains a design edge even after it transitioned out of hipster cafes and into the homes of the masses.

“I don’t think that Facebook is anywhere near to losing that cool edge as long as they keep innovating,” Adriaens said. “They’re buying companies that give them an edge … they’re willing to pay a premium for that cool factor.”

Facebook the uncool brand

In the opposite corner we have the naysayers. These people may still use Facebook — and we’ll get to that in a moment — but in their eyes, Facebook is about as cool as AOL and Yahoo. AOL and Yahoo, for those who need a reminder, are about as a hip as my dad at an Elton John concert.

“It became a big brand even before it went public,” a good friend told me in a private conversation on Path. “Being on Facebook is like being at Target.”

“There is no way Facebook can remain cool to everyone, as there's no brand on the planet that does that,” Moor Insights & Strategy president and principal analyst Patrick Moorhead said. “Their strategy needs to force picking a core demographic, optimize for it, and do it without alienating non-core audiences.”

Crotchety, old Facebook was never cool to begin with, some of you said.

“Facebook is useful but I never think of it as ‘cool,” Rich Bucich told me on Facebook.

“I can’t remember the last time Facebook was cool. Was it ever?” Alex Kawas said.

You know what’s cool? Being a necessity

Maybe cool doesn’t matter that much. Earlier this week, Altimeter Group digital advertising and media analyst Rebecca Lieb told me flat out that Facebook is not cool.

“I don’t think Facebook is really that cool — in the same way that I don’t think your refrigerator is that cool,” she said. “But you don’t want to live without it.”

Facebook has achieved the impossible for a social network: It is now almost indispensable.

“It’s become part of people’s daily media consumption habits. Television isn’t cool. The radio isn’t cool. But people don’t want to live without these channels. And in a way it’s better not to be cool … but rather to be a necessity,” Lieb said. “I believe Facebook has achieved that status.”

Facebook will do just fine as a public company so long as it continues to improve the user experience and not alienate, creep out, or freak out users, Lieb said.

Out with the Facebook, in with the who?

Let’s grant the naysayers their argument for a minute.

If Facebook is out, who’s in? Path, Pinterest, and Tumblr were among the most frequently mentioned companies that came up in informal discussions with friends and acquaintances.

“Remember Tribe? Remember Friendster? Remember Myspace? Are any of you on it? No, that’s right you moved over to Facebook. So the chances are that history will repeat itself, unless Facebook does a 180 with their privacy, advertising, and mobile initiatives,” friend and tech PR pro Vanessa Camones told me via email.

“The next big thing will be on mobile and now that Instagram’s been acquired that top position is ripe for the taking. I myself basically put my personal stuff on Path, where I feel a better connection to the people who I really want to be friends with,” Camones added.

I too have migrated over to Path, but I still come back to Facebook. Cool or not, I find it hard to believe that Facebook, with its hooks into nearly every major mobile and web application, could ever be usurped in the same way that it eclipsed MySpace back in 2009.

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.

Power so mighty you can kill off your enemies with one tweak of an algorithm? Now that’s cool.

Photo credit: K2 images / Shutterstock.com

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Evernote hopes to be “IPO-ready” by end of 2013 (but would rather stay private)

Posted: 18 May 2012 09:57 AM PDT

Evernote CEO Phil Libin

While seemingly every other popular tech startup is aching to go public, Evernote is playing it slow and steady.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin said he hoped to make the company “IPO-ready” by the end of 2013 while speaking to a group of developers and investors in Tokyo yesterday, the New York Times reports. Once that happens, he still wants to wait several years before going public to truly take advantage of the freedom being private allows.

"This is the time the company can take the most risks, for the next couple of years," Libin said. "Once you're a large public company, it's also very difficult to take big risks, because you have to take report to the market every quarter and the market will punish you for failure."

The company has 30 million users now, but by the end of next year Libin hopes to reach more than 100 million users and have near $100 million in revenues, the NYT reports.

His statement comes a little over two weeks after the company landed a massive $70 million funding round, which valued it at $1 billion. At the time, Libin said that he could see Evernote being worth $100 billion or more as a public company. Now though, he seems more interested in taking the company places public investors wouldn’t allow.

"Our goal is to take those risks now, and once we figure out the best business model, then we'll go public, we'll I.P.O.," he said. "The whole point is not to be forced into an I.P.O."

Libin’s stance is particularly interesting today, as Facebook’s IPO dominates the news cycle. Facebook’s offering will earn it billions, but this morning’s surprisingly weak stock performance is already raising questions. By staying private, Evernote can continue to innovate without the scrutiny of the public.

Evernote offers a suite of digital note-taking products with the goal of letting you remember everything. The core Evernote app lets you save pretty much anything — including text, pictures, and other files — to the cloud, which is then accessible from desktop and mobile devices. All of Evernote's apps are free to use, but the company offers premium features at $5 per month (or $45 per year) rate that gives you larger upload capabilities, offline access, and more.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Evernote has now raised around $166 million.

Photo: Libin at VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit 2011/Devindra Hardawar

Filed under: VentureBeat

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The Facebook IPO: What it looked like inside the company’s headquarters

Posted: 18 May 2012 09:24 AM PDT

Cheryl Sandburg and Mark Zuckerberg address a crowd of employees at Facebook HQ.

Facebook began trading on the public markets for the first time today, and at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., excitement levels were high.

After an all-night hackathon designed to send the message that Facebook cares more about coding and shipping products than it does about the public markets, Facebook held a bell-ringing ceremony early in the morning. Using a specially-hacked remote-control NASDAQ button, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg simultaneously rang the bell on the trading floor of the stock exchange, 3,000 miles away, and updated his (and his company’s) Facebook status.

While chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and other executives looked on, Zuckerberg pressed the button and pumped his fist in the air before a crowd of cheering employees.

News outlets were confined to a small area in the company’s parking lot, although several helicopters circled overhead, getting crowd shots. Investor David Sze of Greylock made a brief appearance, surrounded by the glow of wealth, but otherwise the company and its executives and investors kept a low profile.

VentureBeat’s Sarah Mitroff staked out the scene from early this morning, and brought back a few photographs of the historic event. We’ve also included some screenshots from live video feeds and a couple photos from Facebook’s official press photographer to give you a sense of what it was like inside Facebook HQ today.

Filed under: VentureBeat

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For Facebook IPO day, Visual.ly lets you track how much Zuckerberg is worth in real-time

Posted: 18 May 2012 09:20 AM PDT

Zuckerberg's worth

While most of the tech industry is watching Facebook’s historic IPO day unfold, data startup Visual.ly is taking advantage of the situation by showing off the capabilities of its infographics service.

Today Visual.ly launched a new interactive infographic that uses Facebook’s stock pricing data to show exactly how much the company’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is worth in real-time. The infographic displays the current stock price, a chart tracking the stock’s price over the last 60 seconds, the total value of Facebook’s stock offering, and the percentage of shares owned by Zuckerberg as well as his total worth.Visual.ly’s Editorial Director Aleksandra Todorova told me that more data points may be added to the infographic later on.

“I look at this as more of a work in progress that can be customized for a specific purpose or client,” Todorova said, likening it to developing coverage of a news story (or string of stories). Making sense of data after its been analyzed can give way to new data points, which can make the infographic tell a better story.

The new infographic, much like the Twitter Visualization Project from July, is merely an example of what the company’s service can do by using information from various databases and APIs. And as VentureBeat previously reported, Visual.ly is able to offer these kinds of infographics without the use of Photoshop or contracted graphic designers.

“Unless you follow the (stock) market closely, it would be hard to determine how rich Zuckerberg is by only glancing at the current stock price,” Visual.ly Chief Marketing Officer Tal Siach told VentureBeat.

Essentially, anyone with little knowledge of the stock market can make a rough estimate of Zuckerberg’s worth based on statements made within news articles. But I understand what Siach is getting at — with his service you can see the math laid out for you, and know immediately how many dollars Zuck is worth at a specific moment in time. And if you do make an estimate within a blog post, you can link directly to Visual.ly’s data, which is much easier to digest than typical stock charts and graphs.

We’ve added a screenshot of the infographic below, but you’ll need to click through to Visual.ly’s website to see the live interactive version in action.

Filed under: media, social

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Facebook hit with $15B class-action suit over user privacy

Posted: 18 May 2012 09:16 AM PDT

Just hours before Facebook opened on the public market today, a group of Facebook users sued the company in a $15 billion class-action lawsuit over privacy, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook has attracted scrutiny for quite some time when it comes to user privacy and how well it protects the data of its users. The new lawsuit, which was filed in Federal Court in San Jose, Calif., contends that Facebook improperly tracked users even after they were logged out of their personal accounts.

"This is not just a damages action, but a groundbreaking digital-privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications," David Straite, a Stewarts Law partner, said in a statement to Bloomberg.

The lawsuit combines 21 cases filed in the U.S. and uses the U.S. Wiretap Act to create a value for how much each user should be owed. The Act "provides statutory damages of the greater of $100 per violation per day, up to $10,000 per Facebook user,” according to the lawsuit.

Facebook’s IPO got off to a rocky start today, but there’s no way to tell where things will end up at the end of trading. Along with word this week that GM would be dropping Facebook ads, we’re sure Facebook didn’t want today’s lawsuit news occurring on its IPO day.

Stay tuned for more Facebook IPO news throughout the day.

Filed under: social

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Motorola, RIM offer Apple compromise in nano-SIM design spat

Posted: 18 May 2012 09:09 AM PDT

A back room battle has been raging in recent months over the future of something very small:  the nano-SIM, a smaller SIM card design that would allow phone makers to fit more hardware in their increasingly thin devices.

For the vast majority of smartphone users, the shape of their phone’s SIM cards is not something of any real, pressing importance. But for Apple, Nokia, RIM, Motorola and the rest of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), it’s vital.

As exhaustively detailed by The Verge, the debate over the design has been split on a number of points, but one most significantly: Companies like Nokia were adamant about the design having a “push-push” mechanism, which would allow the card to eject once pushed.

Apple, on the other hand, uses a SIM tray design in its devices, so it has no need for such a design. That, along with its desire to keep the new design compatible with previous ones, explain most of Apple’s design decisions.

The central problem is this: Having two SIM card standards floating around is not something anyone wants.

So, as a result, compromise: The new design, proposed yesterday by RIM and Motorola, features elements that are 80 percent Apple’s and 20 percent RIM’s and Motorola’s – an ironic metaphor for the smartphone space that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Essentially, the new design takes most of the elements from Apple’ own and adds the “push-push” mechanism.

Most of the ETSI momentum is going in Apple’s favor, though we will find out which way the group votes when it meets later this month.

Photo: Flickr user cvander

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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