TechRadar

Posts Tagged ‘facebook

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Here’s a niche but a brilliant idea that in my view will create a whole new layer in the existing Online Jobsearch value chain

Founded by two guys, Notchup is trying to expand the target audience for the Jobsearch market. At present, you only enter the world of jobsearch if your looking to move…. but what about the rest of the professionals

Notchup thus is trying to give a reason for all those professionals who are happy in their roles and may be doing well , to come online and to not only make money by charging for being interviewed but also open themselves to some real good opportunities and serious employers

Please find below a review of the site on Techcrunch

The problem with most job sites is that the people companies really want to hire don’t put their resumes on them because they are happy in their current positions. If you are a star manager, chances are your employer knows it and is treating you well so that you don’t even think about leaving. Who wants to bother looking for a job anyway if you don’t have to? That’s right up there with looking for a new house in terms of time-sinks to avoid.

The folks at NotchUp, a stealth startup based in Los Altos, California launching later this month, have a better idea. Founded by two Peerflix refugees, Jim Ambras and Rob Ellis, NotchUp tries to lure talented-but-complacent workers and managers into its recruitment pool by turning the job search on its head. Instead of desperate out-of-work employees going hat-in-hand to companies begging for a job interview, on NotchUp, the companies have to pay to interview you. This is supposed to bring out those passive job seekers every company really wants to find.

notchup-price.pngThe site lets you set whatever price you like per interview, but also provides a calculator that takes into account your current position, experience, education, and salary to come up with a number. What I like about this approach is that it uses economic incentives to try to bring a better inventory of talent onto the market, just like Zillow does with its “Make Me Move” feature that lets people make unsolicited offers on houses that are not officially on the market. If a company is willing to pay you a few hundred or even a thousand bucks just to interview you, chances are they are pretty serious and it is not going to be a waste of time. It acts as a filter for both the employer and the prospective employee.

According to the site, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Powerset are all corporate beta testers using NotchUp for recruitment (well, maybe not Yahoo). NotchUp is still in stealth. The only way to get into the site right now is to be invited by a current user, which is how I learned about it.

Setting up a profile is easy, especially if you already use LinkedIn. NotchUp just imports your LinkedIn profile, you set your price, and you are ready to go. Any friend you refer to the site who gets an interview earns you a 10 percent referral fee. As employers search the site, they can make offers to interview you, which you see in your inbox. You can choose to only get offers from corporations, or from headhunters as well. And you can block recruiters from any particular company (like the one you currently work for) from seeing your profile. The service is free for job seekers, and companies pay NotchUp a fee for each resulting interview.

NotchUp is a really good idea. It turns job hunting into something more people will want to do in a way that makes them feel good about themselves. Even if you don’t get the job, you get paid for your time.

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If you sell anything online, whether physical goods or services, you’re probably keenly aware of the 2-3% (plus $0.30) lost through transactional fees every time someone makes a purchase with their credit card. This fee rears its ugly head whether you use PayPal, Google Checkout, or Amazon Flexible Payment Service since those companies are largely just passing on the fees imposed on them by credit card companies.

Noca, a startup founded by ex-Visa employees, is attempting to virtually eliminate transaction feeds by bypassing the credit card companies altogether with its own online payment service. Since $5 billion goes towards online transaction fees every year in the United States alone, and since online vendors have particularly slim profit margins, the company thinks that the near elimination of transaction feeds would be a huge boon for online vendors. Concurrently, Noca seeks to provide consumers with a more rewarding and more secure purchasing experience, thereby making its service appealing to both actors involved in a transaction.

While Noca aims to eventually facilitate online payments for purchases of all sizes, it begins with a focus on micro-payments, and on micro-payments made through Facebook in particular. It has launched two Facebook applications to test its payments system out: OneClick Pay and HelpYourWorld.

The former provides a simple way to send money to friends. As you can see in the screenshot to the left, the idea is to send someone a digital check; you actually enter your routing and account numbers into the application instead of using a credit card. This poses a significant obstacle to adoption (who remembers these numbers or carries around a check in their pocket?). But the company insists that using checking information rather than credit card information increases security and reduces the chances of identity theft. Plus, Noca is working to provide functionality that would allow you to enter your online banking credentials in lieu of your checking information.

The latter Facebook application, HelpYourWorld, provides a good use case for Noca’s micro-payment system. Since the application solicits $1-at-a-time donations for a series of causes, it benefits greatly from Noca’s lack of transaction fees (especially the standard fixed one of $0.30). Noca hopes that many other Facebook applications with similar micro-payment needs will use its APIs to implement its payment service.

As for the benefits to the consumer, Noca promises to provide strong and flexible incentives through cash back schemes, frequent flier miles, and the ability to designate a part of your payment to a charity of choice. The company also insists that its service will be substantially easier to use than others like PayPal, and that consumers will gain access to a much more comprehensive transaction history than they would get elsewhere.

In the longer term, Noca will become much more like a credit card company itself, providing credit to users through direct partnerships with banks. In doing so, it will be able to provide users with the same benefits of buying things on credit without charging vendors standard transaction fees, which it considers mostly oligopolistic fat. To make money, Noca will also attempt to leverage its user data to target them with tailored advertising and product deals.

from Techcrunch 

as reported on news.com 

“I’ll go on a hunger strike!”

So said one adamant Facebook user in the wake of the news that game manufacturers Hasbro and Mattel were trying to do something about the wildly popular, unquestionably addictive online game known as Scrabulous.

The game, which rose to fame when its creators turned it into an embeddable Facebook application, is a word game that’s a whole lot like the classic board game Scrabble. It uses a playing board with “bonus” spots just like Scrabble. In fact, the rules are identical to Scrabble‘s.

The companies in charge of the “real” Scrabble, for obvious reasons, aren’t happy.

Game companies Hasbro, which distributes Scrabble in North America, and Mattel, which is responsible for its overseas trademarks, have reportedly asked Facebook to remove the game from its application directory. And you can tell it’s a serious legal matter because nobody’s talking.

Facebook declined to confirm the report, and it said that it has not yet issued any kind of statement about Scrabulous; representatives from Hasbro did not respond to calls for comment.

The similarities between Scrabble and Scrabulous are crystal-clear, and it’s a no-brainer to see why Hasbro and Mattel are miffed. To add to that, Scrabulous serves up advertisements, which means that its creators are making money off the concept. But what the game companies really ought to do is take a step back and realize that they can use Scrabulous to their advantage–without removing the viral game from Facebook.

Fans of Scrabulous, for one, aren’t happy about the takedown news. On Facebook, an unofficial group called “Save Scrabulous” is growing fast, with more than 7,000 users at last count (and 5,000 hours before.) Its members, including the aforementioned “hunger striker,” are livid.

“Leave Scrabulous alone!” one of them posted in the group’s message board, a thinly veiled allusion to the “Leave Britney Alone” viral video.

Others were more visceral: “I’ve burnt my Scrabble board in protest!” one exclaimed.

A game of Scrabulous on Facebook.

(Credit: Scrabulous)

Scrabulous is the creation of two brothers in India, Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, who founded Scrabulous.com in 2006. When Facebook launched its developer platform in May, the Agarwallas soon transformed their Scrabble spin-off into an application designed for the social network, and it caught on like wildfire. More than 2 million Facebook members are active Scrabulous users, and several hundred thousand of them play the game each day.

It was a catch-22 for the Agarwallas. The “Scrabulous guys” became Facebook celebrities, but the exposure meant that they were much more visible–and so were the obvious similarities between Scrabble and Scrabulous.

“It wouldn’t be an issue if Scrabulous weren’t so popular, right?” observed Darren Herman, director of digital media for marketing firm The Media Kitchen. It’s the sheer mass of Facebook Scrabulous users that have made it a high-profile case as well as an inevitably ugly situation, if the game is indeed taken down. “We’re seeing the power of social media in its early days. Since we’re still trying to figure out the rules of the game, no pun intended, these types of issues are bound to arise.”

In other words, according to Herman, the debate over Scrabulous is indicative of the fact that the world–or at least certain mainstays of the game industry–still hasn’t quite figured out that a traditional course of action just doesn’t always work on the Web.

“I don’t think they are crazy to think this way,” Darren Herman said when asked if Hasbro and Mattel are totally off base. “Scrabble came out in a time when everyone guarded their (intellectual property) tightly.”

In the old order, a takedown notice may have been the only route. But this is the Web, and plenty of people have pointed out that Hasbro and Mattel are sitting on a marketing gold mine with Scrabulous. They have a gleefully addicted fan base, a machine for viral buzz (Facebook’s platform), and the deep pockets to offer to buy Scrabulous outright–or at least strike an innovative advertising deal.

There’s also no direct competitor. Neither Hasbro nor Mattel operates a Web-based, ad-supported version of Scrabble; video game manufacturer Electronic Arts owns the rights to electronic versions of the game, and it currently sells a PC game of Scrabble for about $20. (EA was not available for comment on the Scrabulous issue.) With Scrabulous, all three companies may be sitting on a marketing treasure trove.

Hasbro and Mattel might not get it. But the members of Save Scrabulous think that they do.

“Do these greedy fools not realize that they should be paying the creators of Scrabulous for all the damn fans of the game they created?” one angry Scrabulous fan from the United Kingdom asked on the group’s “wall.” He brought up a further point–that this is getting people excited about the musty old board game in a way they haven’t in years. “It’s like the music vids put on YouTube. It makes me buy tracks I never would have done, and frankly, before this game emerged, Scrabble was just something for rainy days in my childhood.”

Another member of the group put it more concisely. “Scrabulous brought Scrabble back in style. They should be thankful.”

We ‘ve all been reading a lot about the latest in the Social Networking Space(SNS) facebook, myspace etc etc ….But what’s keeping the Chinese busy…. especially when almost every 5th Chinese has access internet, a staggering 200Mill number of internet users……..

Here’s a detailed analysis (post on readwriteweb.com,covering the latest report from China Internet Networking Information center-CNNIC ) of the Chinese SNS and the Internet space

Do post your comments if you happen to know more about Chinese Internet Market

According to latest report from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), by end of 2007, there are over 200 million Internet users (including 163 million broadband users) in China. 2008 is shaping up to be a very busy year for the Chinese Internet, and the Chinese market seems to be pulsing with social networking activity. But for Chinese Internet users, social networking has taken on a very different form than it has in Western countries. In China, the most popular form of networking may just be the traditional Internet forum system, or BBS.

That’s not to say traditional social networking is dead — far from it. You can find QZone which is owned by Tencent with the support of QQ’s over 220 millions active users. Then there is 51.com which proclaims 160,000 new users daily; Linkist and Wealink are two popular professional networks based in Shanghai; Tianji.com is another professional network based in Beijing and it has partnered with Viadeo, one of the world’s largest online business communities to create a premier business platform for online networking between China and Europe; Xiaonei, Zhanzuo and many others are sharing the campus social networking market.

With its massive user base, the Chinese market is naturally one of the most attractive places for Western networks to attemp to set up shop. MySpace has set up an office in Beijing; Facebook might acquire a Chinese SNS, Fenbei.com, and surely will have local presence in 2008; Friendster has done very well in the South East Asian market and expects similar success in China. Xing, a professional network from Europe, set up a Chinese office back in 2005; Last.fm is trying to be more localized in China to compete with 9Sky, Yobo, and 8box.

Surprisingly, though, one of the most popular methods for Chinese netizens to communicate exists far from the web 2.0 scene: traditional Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). BBS actually plays a very significant role in Chinese Internet life. In China, registered BBS users have reached 3 billion (one netizen might register at multiple BBS sites); 80% of Chinese sites are running their own BBS and the total number of daily page views across bulletin board systems has reached over 1.6 billion, with 10 million posts published every day. The BBS is an undiscovered and untalked about Chinese Internet phenomenon. To understand more about why BBS is so hot in China and how it will co-exist with modern social networks, we interviewed Kevin Day the CEO and founder of Comsenz Inc., owner of Discuz!, the first ever social platform – a BBS system – for the Chinese Internet. More than 400,000 BBS sites are built on the Discuz! system in China, or in other words, Discuz! controls over 70% of the Chinese BBS market.

The Phenomenon of Chinese BBS

According to a report produced by iResearch Consulting Group in 2007, around 36.3% of users in China spend 1-3 hours per day on BBS sites, about 44.7% of users spend 3-8 hours, and even 15.1% of users are on BBS sites for more than 8 hours each day. Over 60% of users will log in to at least 3 BBS sites more than 3 times each week.

According to the report, the primary reasons for using BBS sites is finding solutions to problems, general discussion, finding information, and sharing life experiences. 98% of users have contributed to a BBS by publishing articles, replying to posts, participating in polls, etc. Users tend to trust BBS sites because they think the information found on them is first-hand, updated frequently, and presented in a comfortable, community environment.

Chinese BBS life has apparently extended offline, as well. The report also says 64.5% of users have attended some offline events organized by BBS administrators or users. More than 80% of users are using BBS sites to search for information about products they plan to buy, and 61.7% of users are keen to ask other BBS users for opinions before making a purchase. Astonishingly, BBS sites are even acting as ecommerce hubs themselves, with 47.3% of users having bought products directly from a BBS.

The screenshot below shows a BBS set up by the fans of Jinglei Xu, a very famous Chinese celebrity and blogger. This site has over 65,420 registered users, and you can find thousands of online communities like this one built on traditional BBS software.

The History of Discuz!

If you ever log onto a Chinese BBS site, most likely it is built on the Discuz! system. Discuz! was originally developed by Kevin Day when he was at his first year in university. In 2002, the first version of Discuz! was sold to a Hong Kong based company, and in 2003, Day decided to discontinue his studies and founded Comsenz Inc. in 2004 in Beijing.

In 2005, Comsenz Inc. partnered with Zend and established the Zend China support center. Later in 2005, Day announced that Discuz! was going open source, which has been described by local media as an earthquake for the Chinese software industry. Comsenz Inc. got its first round of funding for around $10 million from Sequoia Captial, Morningside, and Google in 2006.

Now Comsenz Inc. has grown to a household name with 200+ staff and a complete product line that includes Discuz! (bulletin board), X-Space (social Network platform), SupeSite (content management system), ECShop (open source B2C and C2C system) and SupeV (online videosharing system). It is also running a few Internet services, including a free forum hosting service 5d6d, a free B2B shop hosting service Maifou, and a community advertising network Insenz. Day is just 26 years old, but he has been publicly recognized as the one of the most successful entrepreneurs born in 1980s.

The BBS and Social Networks

With 70% of Chinese BBS sites built on Discuz!, Day is obviously a key figure behind the phenomenon. So we asked him why he thought BBS systems have become so popular in China. “The first Chinese BBS was probably set up back in 1997. Like Email, BBS is one of the first Internet services recognized by Chinese netizens,” he told us. “Chinese like the communities, they are normally a bit quiet in real life but in Internet they love to express their opinion and to follow up some discussion of hot topics. BBS provides a perfect and easy-to-setup show stage for everyone. BBS has evolved as a media platform, it is not the main stream media yet and might never be in China, but the latest and hottest news are always from various forums, spread and discussed by millions of users.

“Take a look at how fast the blog grows in China, you will understand my point here. The BBS users are more mature, they are mainly at the age of 20 to 40, well-educated and with various professional background, and their contribution to all sorts of forums make BBS a valuable information source.”

With social networking on the rise in the Western world and also in China, we asked Day if he thought social networking sites would eventually replace the BBS in Chinese culture.

“BBS will not be replaced by SNS and they will not be the competitors to each other either,” he answered. “BBS is a must-to-have application in SNS, at least in China. The features of BBS can help the social network users to exchange their ideas efficiently. On the other hand, SNS is a people-centric networking platform but BBS is a topic-centric platform. SNS is to map the social relationship in real life into the cyber space, which in my opinion is one of the reasons people love Facebook; But BBS is there for users to follow the hottest topics and expand your social experience virtually. In BBS, people go there because they are interested in the topics, and whom they communicate with does not really matter.”

The Monetization of BBS

The global social networking market is still struggling to seek the best methods for monetization, but it seems that BBS sites have already found a way to drive revenue. Day introduced us to his Insenz product, a BBS-based marketing service that was launched about six months ago. At its core, Insenz is basically a Chinese version of Google’s Adsense/AdWord services focused on BBS sites. If you are running a BBS focusing on the mobile phones market, for example, you can join the Insenz advertisement program and get mobile phone related ads or articles posted on your BBS.

Insenz’s customer are from all sorts of industries, car manufacturers, telecommunications, IT companies, etc. Insenz will monitor user feeback (e.g. how many replies to the article, how many times the post has been viewed, etc.) during the campaign and issue a report to marketers that includes valuable first-hand marketing information. The BBS sites that participate in the marketing campaigns get a cut of the revenue.

Of course Insenz takes the advantage of Day’s Discuz! kingdom. But actually, in China, Insenz is not the only company offering this service. Daqi.com, which started as a portal service, is now also taking advantage of the BBS phenomenon for marketing purposes. Instead of distributing ads across forums, they invented a technology to help gather and analyze discussions about the products of their customers. Daqi closed its second round fund from WI Harper in 2007.

Conclusion

A universal BBS search engine will definitely be more valuable than blog search in China, though Day said that he would not bother to do this simply because he thinks the search engine giants Google or Baidu have better technology to implement it. It seems that Google China has noticed the popularity of BBS sites in the Chinese Intneret market, and have recently taken a stake in Tianya.cn, a very popular BBS-based social network with 6+ million registered users and 200,000 online users daily. So should MySpace, Facebook, and other traditional Western social networks endeavor to enhance their BBS features if they want to play in China?

Here’s a great post from Lee (Altura ventures, adonomics.com) who runs the Altura fund, the facebook (F8) applications focussed fund. Altura took over appaholic.com(App’s) a facebook analytics website and renamed it to adonomics.com (Ad’s + Apps)

Introduction

  1. The Altura Ventures’ Genesis Story — I was not present on May 24th at the launch of the F8 Platform and I only knew a little about Facebook from my sons (one of whom graduated from college two years ago and the other who is a Junior this year). I did not have a Facebook account and had only checked out MySpace briefly after its acquisition by Rupert Murdoch. I was not impressed and tried to delete my account the same day I created it (without much success since they make this virtually impossible). In any case, after leaving SHOP.COM where I worked for 9 years to grow the site from 0 to 500,000 users and while working on a new software startup, I read the iLike story of how they launched their facebook app and added 600,000 in 8 hours!!! Clearly, there was something new under the sun in software. After studying Facebook from mid June on, I decided to reposition Altura Ventures as the first facebook-only VC.From that point on, I began to use Facebook itself as a way of building my own personal brand as a thought leader in the Facebook space. I created the “Official Altura Ventures and AppFactory Facebook Investment Fund” group and made officers in the group of about 100 of the top 300 Facebook App developers, key Facebook employees and key Microsoft employees. My strategy was based on the fact that since I couldn’t own any of Facebook’s Social Operating System, the next best thing would be to own a portion of Facebook’s Application Space. I also acquired Adonomics.com and began to use it as a site to convince developers that their Facebook apps were going to be worth a lot in the future and to not sell them too soon for too little money (e.g., like Favorite Peeps did when they sold an app with 1.5 million users to Slide for only $60,000).I also began to write about the comparison between Facebook’s Social Operating System and Microsoft’s Graphical Operating System. This comparison along with Facebook’s exponential growth in users and applications led me to conclude that they were worth $100 billion and I started to blog about this and attend Facebook conferences where I would explain why I thought this way.
  2. $100 Billion!!! Are You Drunk? — At Dave McClure’s Graphing Social Patterns conference, I mentioned my belief about Facebook being worth $100 billion and this led to a series of reactions from the panel that followed mine in which I was accused of being drunk, an idiot and/or crazy enough to be escorted out of the building. While not true, these accusations were made by the likes of Jason Calcanis, Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington and indicated that calculating a valuation for a privately held company that is growing as fast as Facebook is something that is not well understood. It is my goal in this talk to explain how I arrive at the $100 billion figure, convince you that this number is right, show that Facebook has multiple paths to arriving at this number and failing all of that, demonstrate that I not drunk, on crack or crazy.
  3. WATER FIGHT! and Birthday Calendar and Stanford Facebook Class — Before beginning, I should also mention that Facebook continues to be the fastest and cheapest way for any company to create an app that can gain 1 to 2 million users in an extremely short period of time. Altura Ventures demonstrated this with two apps WATER FIGHT! and Birthday Calendar that reached 1 million users in only 60 and 15 days, respectively. In addition, 5 of 25 apps from BJ Fogg and Dave McClure’s Stanford Facebook Class reached 1 million users in less than 30 days. This unbelievable growth was accomplished AFTER Facebook had eliminated the Ultra-Viral, Unlimited Invite System that was in place at the time of iLike.


Overview

  1. Why Facebook Can’t Be Worth $100 Billion
  2. Facebook’s Growth and Current Business
  3. Graphical Operating System vs. Social Operating System
  4. Value of a Registered Web User vs. a Facebook App User
  5. Warren Buffett’s Views On Valuation
  6. How Should We Determine Facebook’s Worth?
  7. Valuation Time Machine
  8. Getting To $100 Billion in 3 Easy Steps
  9. $2.4 Billion Per Year from $1 Per User Per Month from 200 million Users
  10. $2.4 Billion Per Year from 10+ Partners Paying $20 Million Per Month
  11. $2.4 Billion Per Year from 100+ Major Merchandise Categories Paying $2 million Per Month
  12. Conclusion
  13. Commercial


1. Why Facebook Can’t Be Worth $100 billion?

In addition to explaining at http://blog.adonomics.com why Facebook is worth $100 billion, let me also mention the reasons from A to Z why I’ve been told Facebook can’t possibly be worth $100 billion and briefly refute each of them.

a. It only has $100 million in 2007 Revenues — Google only had $86 million in 2001 revenues before co-opting Overture’s Bid-Based, Cost Per Click advertising system as the perfect monetization vehicle for a search engine site whose goal is to get you to leave the site. Now, Google has a market valuation of $218 billion. The same thing will happen for Facebook when it co-opts a Cost Per Customer Acquired transaction system as its perfect monetization vehicle which is for a site whose goal is to get you to stay on the site.

b. It only has $30 million in 2007 profits — Google only had $6 million in 2001 earnings before learning how to monetize search. Google has 2007 earnings of $4+ billion. Facebook’s cost structure is already paid for with its current, ill-fitting, link-off advertising model and so all almost all future revenue will drop straight to the bottom line.

c. It is yet another flash-in-the-pan social network that will fade like Friendster and Orkut — Yahoo thought the same thing about Google (i.e., search is a commodity feature and not a business and will be replaced by something else). They were wrong and Google has surpassed Yahoo’s value because it became difficult to buy or build a faster, better, easier or cheaper than Google and the Google brand “stuck” in consumer’s minds. Facebook will be the social operating system brand that sticks in consumers’ minds and it will be very difficult to build a faster, better, easier or cheaper social networking experience than Facebook.

d. MySpace is still bigger — yes but about half of their users are either identity/advertising bots or fantasy identities. However, these millions of fake, exhibitionistic avatars are not, in the long run, that interesting to maintain nor fun to interact with when compared to Facebook’s users who are real people with real friends with their real names, faces, birthdates, likes and dislikes showing.

e. Google will crush it — Google’s brand power has only extended into GMail (which is still far behind Yahoo Mail and Microsoft HotMail) and they have failed miserably in video (so they bought YouTube), in VOIP (so they bid for Skype but lost out to eBay), and in hundreds of other Google Lab apps that haven’t broken out to mass market audiences.

f. Open Social will crush it — herding 18 to 50 cats to build a social operating system will inevitably lead to a lowest common denominator set of features, a committee-designed UI and variably extended API that will not be compelling for end users. Imagine if the MP3 player industry tried to standardize on their own version of iTunes and an iPod — it would never be as clean as Apple’s. In addition, the advent of Facebook licensing their Social Networking API to Bebo and others means that every wanna-be social network can now get the secret formula to “the Real Thing” vs. Google’s imitation brand.

g. Users will hate it when they understand the privacy issues — in reality, Facebook users understand that what they put on Facebook can be seen by their 300 to 500 friends and this doesn’t particularly bother them. This “transparent lifestyle” works because it brings benefits to those who practice it that outweigh any real or perceived negatives. In addition, for those who want more privacy than Facebook’s defaults, all of the necessary privacy settings are there to achieve any level of control as to who sees what about you and your profile. Those who don’t trust these controls can simply not join. However, this represents a tiny minority of the people in the countries where Facebook has been launched.

h. E-mail / Search / Groups / etc. Suck on Facebook — although the Facebook apps mentioned have limits in comparison to their Web 1.0 counterparts, in most cases they also have HUGE benefits. For example, e-mail is limited by the lack of Forwarding, Sorting, Searching and CC’ing, however it benefits from being completely free of SPAM due to Facebook’s role as sherrif enforcing Terms of Service that punish those who would abuse their right to e-mail others. This is an also an example of how having simple, single function apps where every feature is used almost every day is better than having complex, kitchen sink apps that need to find an antidote for their feature bloat.

i. Facebook Apps are Toys for Toddlers — although some people of a certain age and relationship status (e.g., a certain all things digital columnist) don’t need or understand many of the flirtation and courtship apps that are popular on Facebook, they do serve a purpose for millions of Facebook users. In addition, apps like Birthday Calendar and Top Friends have real utility in managing your personal and business relationships with a level of connectedness that was typically reserved for very ambitious sales people and CEO’s who took it upon themselves to learn their customers and competitors’ spouses’ names, childrens’ names, pets’ names and birthdays.

j. People won’t click on ads — the low click-thru on Facebook CPC ads that take the user off of the site is really a testament to the stickiness of Facebook itself. If and when Facebook offers web search (in addition to people, event, group and app search), then click-thru rates will probably approach Google’s for that aspect of the site. In additon, when clicks stay within the site or are made to look like the Facebook newsfeed feature, they enjoy higher click-thru rates than Google’s sponsored links.

k. It’s all college students who won’t buy anything — in every country but the US the demographics of the users matches those of the online population. It is only in the US, where thanks to its 80% to 90% penetration of colleges that the demographics of the users skews to the 18 to 24 year old group. Even this is changing quickly and will continue to grow as the parents, aunts and uncles of high school and college age students begin to understand how useful Facebook is.

l. Business users will stay on LinkedIn — the instant that Facebook finishes their feature for grouping friends by their various types (e.g., school, social, church, business, family, etc.), sites such as LinkedIn will begin to see a mass exodus to Facebook. This may even be accelerated by LinkedIn’s support of OpenSocial which will allow “Exodus Apps” to be written that copy out a user’s profile and connections and migrates them over to Facebook. The reason for this is that Facebook is a site that is visited daily for news and updates whereas LinkedIn is only checked periodically when seeking a new job or business connection.

m. Older people won’t go on Facebook — those older people who loved AOL (and may still be on it) because it is a way of using the web that is shielded from some of its more offensive areas will also love Facebook when they are exposed to it. In addition, older people have children and grandchildren on Facebook that they wish to connect to and Facebook makes this easier than any other system available to them.

n. It hasn’t been localized — this is being fixed but even with its english-only user interface some of the fastest growing countries are places like Turkey and Egypt. This shows the power of Facebook is not the technology or interface but the people that are on the site and once a country tips toward a social network like Facebook, it will be almost as hard to get them to switch as getting the country to change their native language.

o. It has embarrassing photos from my college days — these are easily removed and will soon be easily segregated into areas that will be hard for business collegues and prospective bosses to find. In addition, many in the coming generation are more willing to have who they are be seen by not only their peers but also those who are older (e.g., witness the prevalence of tatoos and piercings in such business settings as high end restaurants, expensive stores and even banks).

p. The Social Graph is a silly term — every revolution needs its buzz word and this one does a fairly good job of describing the fact every person on the planet is connected to one another by a social fabric of friendships and relationships that can be mapped (or graphed) as a series of nodes and lines. Facebook’s goal is to have the most accurate online picture of this social graph and to leverage it by watching the actions of its users and alerting these users’ friends of what they are doing.

q. The management team is full of amateurs — although young, Facebook’s key managers have been parts of major companies before such as AOL, Amazon, etc. and their board includes the founder of PayPal (i.e., Peter Theil who beat an incumbent giant as they tried to launch a competitive payment system, executed an IPO for an initial liquidity event and then grew so threatening they forced eBay to purchase them at a post IPO premium). To date, the Facebook team has grown the company from 3 users to 60 million and from a $10 million valuation to $15+ billion valuation. All in all, not bad for a “bunch of amateurs.” Matt Cohler, Dustin Moskovitz, Adam D’Angelo, Chamath Palihapitiya,Owen Van Atta, Gideon Yu, Dave Morin, Ami Vora, Dave Fetterman have the right stuff and it shows as their their rocket ship has not only achieved escape velocity but is also more than half way to infinity and beyond.

r. Mark Zuckerberg is too young/arrogant/stupid/nervous on stage/insensitive — the same thing was said in just about every first press article about Bill Gates — the other Harvard drop-out that started an OS company with his former roommate. Mark has actually retained a level of humility that is admirable for someone so young with so much early success. I credit this to his parents and to him having his sister in the company to remind him and others about exactly how he was as an awkward youngster.

s. Facebook doesn’t care about their users — it is clear that Facebook is willing to push the envelope WRT features such as the newsfeed and beacon that its users either don’t initially understand or fully appreciate. However, Facebook is also fanatical about creating a safe platform where people are who they say they are (unlike MySpace) and which is family-friendly and where SPAM and phishing scams and data scraping efforts are essentially impossible.

t. The web should be open — As Dave McClure says, “open is not better, better is better.” The advantage of a walled garden with a strictly enforced Terms of Service is that those who would abuse the trust built into the system can be kicked out. This makes it better for those who choose to participate in an environment that works well for them. Most of those crying for Facebook to open up their bag of crown jewels are competitors who would never think of doing the same thing with their most highly prized assets.

u. Facebook is just AOL warmed-over — AOL was well-liked (even loved) by many users for what it offered with 10’s of millions paying a monthly fee just for the right to use it (even after the web became free) and unlike AOL which tried to keep their users from discovering the real web, Facebook’s users know all about the real web and are choosing to spend more and more time inside of Facebook because this is where their friends are. Just like that bar in Boston, Facebook is the place “where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.”

v. Everyone in Brazil uses Orkut and everyone in the Phillipines uses Friendster — this just shows the stickiness of even a less than fully capable social network when an entire country standardizes on it. This loyalty and tipping-point style of dominance is what Facebook is enjoying in almost all of the countries where there are large economies. As I’ve said, getting a country to change its dominant social network is like convincing it to change its native language — it just won’t happen because everyone has to change on the same day to make it work.

w. Google / Yahoo can simply turn their e-mail systems into social networks — no they can’t because they don’t have their users’ permission to do so. In Facebook, if I add a friend I know that my whole network of friends will see this. However, if I add a GMail address, this can’t be shared with the rest of my address book and it is not even clear how one member in my address book, known only via an e-mail, would be recognized by someone else (e.g., “DM2007@aol.com just became friends with NiceGirl05@gmail.com” is much less useful than “Danna Lorenzen just married Kevin Holmes”).

x. Google owns web search forever — while the term Google currently equals Search in most users’ minds, the Facebook Search box is a wedge in this tight coupling the desire to search for something and going to the Google.com home page. The thin end of Facebook’s search wedge comes from the People/Event/Group Searches that are now performed more efficiently at Facebook. When users fully adopt Facebook as their gateway to the web, and Facebook offers web search (powered by Microsoft), then many users will opt for the most convenient Search box which will be inside of Facebook.

y. Microsoft’s investment doesn’t matter — given all of the software wars that Microsoft has won (e.g., Character OS, Graphical OS, Development Environment, Word Processing, SpreadSheet, Presentation, Database, Browser, Server, etc.), it is a mistake to dismiss them when they pick an ally in the Social Operating Systems war. Steve Ballmer likes to win and he has a 30 year track record as a winner — don’t underestimate the 3D chess match he and Bill are playing to beat Google using Facebook.

z. It can’t be worth $100 billion because it is actually worth more than $100 billion

2. Facebook’s Growth and Current Business

2004 Feb – 3 users – Mark, Dustin and Chris
2004 Dec – 1 million users (college only members via .edu e-mail verification)

2005 Dec – 5.5 million users (adds high school members)

2006 Dec – 12 million users (opens up to any member)

2007 Apr – 20 million users

2007 May 24 – Platform Launched

2007 Dec – 60 million users

450 employees è -$45 million (headcount)
50 million users
è
-$25 million (infrastructure)
Page Views
è
2.1 billion page views per day
Microsoft Ad Deal
è
$100 million (approx. $0.13 CPM rate)
Profit
è $30 million

2008

900 employees è -$90 million (headcount)
200 million users
è
-$100 million (infrastructure)
Page Views
è
8.4 billion page views per day
Microsoft Ad Deal
è
$400 million (approx. $0.13 CPM rate)
Profit
è $210 million


3. Graphical OS vs. Social OS

 

Graphical Operating System

Social Operating System

OS Name

Windows

Facebook

Founder(s)

Harvard drop-out and his former roommate

Harvard drop-out and his former roommate

Initial Launch

1984

2004

Critical Mass Achieved

1995

2007

Competitors

Digital Research’s GEM, IBM’s OS/2 Presentation Manager, VisiCorp’s VisiON, Sun xWindows, Apple’s Mac

MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut, Friendster, OpenSocial

Focus

Windows SDK à Developers / Developers / Developers!!!

80,000 employees

4+ million 3rd party developers

F8 Platform à Developers / Developers / Developers!!!

450 employees

180,000 3rd party developers

Lock-in

OEM PC companies bundled Windows; Developers’ apps and API knowledge; Consumer investment in apps, file system and user interface

Consumer investment in Profile Data, Notes, Photos, e-Mail history, Groups, Apps, and Friend Network; developers’ apps and API knowledge

Killer Apps

Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Outlook, Browser

Photos, Events, Friends, Newsfeed, Inbox, Groups, Profile Page

Calendar, Dining, Travel, Gifting, Shopping, Turn-based Games, Super Groups


4. The Value of a Web User vs. a Facebook App User

 

Web site Registration

Facebook App Install

User Actions Required to Accomplish Registration

Select Registration Button, Enter E-mail, Enter & Re-Enter Password, Enter other app related profile data

Select Add Application, Select Continue

Source of New Users

Cost Per Click Advertising (typically $0.25 to $1.00 to get a visitor), Cost Per Impression Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, PR, Offline Advertising, Blogs,

Friend Invites, Friend Newsfeeds

Cost of Registered Users

Assuming 2% conversion rate, $12.50 to $50.00

$0.00 via viral flow, $0.50 for Cost Per Install

Site Reminders

Bookmarking (<1%)

Profile page

Post Registration Marketing Methods

e-mail

e-mail, newsfeed, profile page, friends’ interactions

Opt-Out Rate

50% to 75%

< 1%

Hurdles to Re-using Site/App

Remember e-mail/password

Find app/icon on Profile Page and Click

a. Facebook is “Addictive”

b. Facebook is “So, Distracting, Companies Must Ban It”

c. Facebook is “God’s Gift to Developers”

d. Facebook is “Nirvana for Direct Marketers”

e. Facebook is the first “Word of Mouse” Engine

f. Facebook is “Bloomberg Terminal for Your Life”

g. Facebook is the ”Lowest Cost Customer Acquisition Vehicle on the Planet”


5. Warren Buffett’s Views on Valuation

Warren Buffett’s Definition of Value

The value of any business today is determined by the cash inflows and outflows – discounted at an appropriate interest rate – that can be expected to occur during the remaining life of the asset.”

Owner’s Earnings is the amount all future cash that the investor could take out of the business without hurting the business’s long term competitive position.

Stock Market’s Definition of Value:

Valuation is any amount that a willing seller and buyer agree to

For public stocks, Mr. Market values every business each and every day

And, Warren’s fortune is based on buying stocks whose future earnings
are being undervalued by the marketplace

Valuation is not based on past or current earnings but on future earnings


6. How Should We Determine Facebook’s Worth?

Facebook’s Investment History

June 2004 à 5% sold, implied valuation à$10 million
May 2005
à 12.5% sold, implied valuation à
$100 million
Apr 2006
à 5% sold, implied valuation à
$500 million
Oct 2007
à 1.6% sold, implied valuation à $15 billion

Facebook’s Valuation Should NOT BE BASED ON:

Yesterday’s Small % Investors

Yesterday’s Earnings

Today’s Monetization Methods

Today’s Strategic Partners

My Estimate of Facebook’s Valuation Is BASED ON:

Today’s Growth Rate

Today’s Developer Platform

Today’s User Experience

Tomorrow’s Monetization Methods

Tomorrow’s Strategic Partners

Sum Total of All Future Earnings

So, what is Facebook worth today?

Lee’s Answer à $100 billion


  1. The Valuation Time Machine

What was Alaska worth in 1867?

1867 – Seward’s Folly:
586,000 square miles for $7.2 million (1.9 cents per acre)
$182 million in today’s dollars

1867 – 1958 à $40 billion in Fur, Gold, Copper, Salmon
1959 – 2006
à $375 billion in Oil, especially after the pipeline

2007 – Today’s valuation = ???

What was Microsoft worth in 1984?

1986 – Post IPO valuation à $750 million

1986 – 2006 à $126 billion in Net Income from OS Licenses, Office Suite Apps

2007 – Today’s Stock Market Valuation = $310 billion

What was Google worth in Dec. 2001?

2001 – AdWords CPM = 2001è $86 million revenue

2002 – AdWords CPM & CPC = 2002 à $347 million revenue

2003 – AdWords CPC only + AdSense = 2003 à $961 million revenue

2004 – Post IPO valuation à $31 billion

2001 – 2006 à $20 billion in Net Income from CPC Search

2007 – Today’s Stock Market Valuation = $218 billion

What was Facebook worth in May 2004?

2004 – $10 million???

Growth of non-college, non-US members
Signing Microsoft advertising deal
Opening of the platform for developers
Accepting Microsoft investment

2007 – Today’s Private Investor Valuation = $15 billion


8. Getting to $100 Billion in 3 Easy Steps

a. What will Facebook’s P/E Ratio Be?

14 – Disney ($62 billion)

17 – GE ($371 billion)

17 – American Express ($67 billion)

22 – Microsoft ($319 billion)

33 – MasterCard ($26 billion)

50 – Yahoo ($34 billion)

54 – Google ($218 billion)

103 – Amazon ($38 billion)

280 – eBay ($45 billion)

b. Earnings Required to Get to $100 Billion Post-IPO Valuation

25 P/E è $4 billion in earnings
42 P/E
è
$2.4 billion in earnings
50 P/E
è $2 billion in earnings

c. Users Required to Get to $100 billion Post-IPO Valuation

2007 à 65 million
2008
à
200 million
2009
à
300 million
2010
à 400 million

d. $100 Billion Post-IPO Valuation è $1 per month per user

P/E ratio = 42
Late 2008 earnings run rate = $2.4 billion
$100 Billion = 42 P/E * $2.4 billion

200 million users$2.4 billion = $200 million per month * 12 months
$200 million per month = $1 per month * 200 million users


9. $2.4 Billion Per Year from $1 Per User Per Month

Add Web Search to Facebook:

28 web searches per user per month

1 in 7 lead to Cost Per Click Sponsored Link click

4 clicks = $1.20 per month per user

(Facebook’s rate: $0.04 per web search)
(Google’s rate: $0.26 per web search)

Create Web-Wide, Open AdSense that is Enhanced with User Data:

Google makes $4.7 billion per year in AdSense Revenue

Facebook could make it 50% better its User Knowledge

Works out to $2.4 billion per year in Facebook’s Share of AdSense Revenue

Offer a Facebook Mall with 35% New Customer Acquisition Fee (otherwise 5% fee)

Average Transaction Size = $30

35% New User Merchant Commission = $10.50

5% Existing User Merchant Commission = $1.50

Purchases Per Year Per User = 2

50% of Purchases are with New Merchants

Commission Fees = $12 on Total of $60 Per User

$12 billion in Mall Sales per year

Works out to $2.4 billion in Customer Acquisition and Commission Fees

Offer a Facebook Wallet (i.e, Web-Wide Auto-Login / One-Click Buy Service)

Prior Wallet’s have failed due to lack of Adoption

Facebook already has massive adoption and complete user data

Facebook already has 6 million credit cards on file

At 1%, this is $2.4 billion for assisting $240 billion in annual purchases


10. $2.4 Billion Per Year from 10+ Partners Paying $20 Million Per Month

License eBay to Power Person to Person Sales

License Amazon to Power Book/Music/Video Sales

License Visa to Power All Credit Card Sales

License Craig’s List to Power Classifieds

License AT&T to Power Yellow Pages

License Expedia to Power Travel

License YouTube to Power Video

License Skype to Power VOIP

License Apple to Power Music Downloads

License eTrade to Power Finance

11. $2.4 Billion Per Year from 100+ Merchandise Categories Paying $2 million Per Month

Gifting – Red Envelope, Gifts.com, Harry & David

Computers – Dell, HP

Gadgets — Sharper Image, Hammacher Schlemmer

Men’s Fashion – Lands End, Big & Tall, Gap

Women’s Fashion – Lane Bryant, Talbots, Gap

Children’s Fashion – Hanna Anderson,

Home Furnishing – IKEA

Discount Selling – Overstock, SmartBargains

Shoes – Zappos, Amazon

Lingerie – Victoria’s Secret

Books – Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Music – Amazon, Virgin

Video – Amazon, NetFlix

etc.


12. Conclusion

a. Facebook is “Addictive”

b. Facebook is “So, Distracting, Companies Must Ban It”

c. Facebook is “God’s Gift to Developers”

d. Facebook is “Nirvana for Direct Marketers”

e. Facebook is the first “Word of Mouse” Engine

f. Facebook is “Bloomberg Terminal for Your Life”

g. Facebook is the ”Lowest Cost Customer Acquisition Vehicle on the Planet”

13. Commercial

The GEM System for the Viral Design and Tuning of Apps

Growth – 1 to 2 million users in less than 1 year

Engagement – 5% to 10% active users PER DAY

Monetization — $30K to $60K in Ad Revenue per Million Installs Per Month

Here’s Josh(business2.0 founder) writing on what seems to be a tough situation for the two Indian entrepreneurs who launched their facebook app (Scrabulous) last year and are now sitting on a web property that gets 70 Mill page views a month

Hasbro, the owner of the game scrabble, is gunning to bring down the facebook app and has reportedly summoned Facebook to bring it down….

Just wait and watch… will update here on what happens next

By Josh QuittnerI can’t tell if Hasbro (HAS), the maker of Scrabble, is the smartest company in the world or the dumbest. Over 100 million sets of the game have been sold in 121 countries, in 29 different languages, according to everyone’s favorite source. What a cash cow.So, why in the world didn’t it create a free online version? Could it have something to do with the digital rights being in flux, thanks to a recent licensing deal that assigned online Scrabble rights to EA (ERTS). If so, why oh why would it let someone else do it, and reap the rewards? But that’s just what happened when two guys from Calcutta, Jayant Agarwalla, 21, and his brother, Rajat, 26, created a knockoff called Scrabulous.

Their site launched in 2006 and quickly signed up 600,000 registered users. Not too shabby for a year’s worth of work. So the brothers launched a Facebook application in June, 2007 and the results were stunning: 2.3 million active users as of today. For those of you keeping score, the application generated 270 70 million pageviews in the past month. Not a bad deal for a two-man operation.

But all good things must come to an end, which is bad news for Scrabulous fans, and even worse for the Agarwalla Bros.: Hasbro’s trying to shut the site down. “They sent a notice to Facebook about two weeks ago,” Jayant confirmed to me. “The lawyers are working on it.”

As a recovering Scrabulous addict (actually, I have since moved on to Facebook’s harder stuff, Texas Hold ‘em), I’m devastated. But as a tech writer and life-long student of what passes for Internet economics, I’m baffled. Is Hasbro just a stupid Potato Head? Or is this a brilliant game of Stratego?

My calls to the company have so far gone unanswered. A spokesman for Facebook, who said she was unaware of what was in the works with Hasbro or Scrabulous, said, “we don’t typically comment on legal matters.”

If I were an evil genius running a board games company whose product line spanned everything from Monopoly to Clue, I might do this: Wait until someone comes up with an excellent implementation of my games and does the hard work of coding and debugging the thing and signing up the masses. Then, once it got to scale, I’d sweep in and take it over. Let the best pirate site win! If I were compassionate, I’d even cut in the guys who did all the work for a percentage point or two to keep the site running.

Perhaps that’s what will happen since both the Scrabulous site and Facebook app are still up and running. Indeed, Jayant told me that he was hopeful they’d find an 11th Hour solution. “We’re trying to work out some kind of deal,” he said. I hope so, too.

Jayant said that he didn’t exactly understand what all the fuss was about. Its ability to generate insane numbers of pageviews notwithstanding—he said some players play as many as 170 games at a time on Facebook—the application isn’t throwing off that much money. He declined to say exactly how much, pegging revenues at “over $25,000 a month.” Hmmmmm.

The brothers got the idea for Scrabulous after becoming Scrabble freaks a few years ago and playing at another free site, Quadplex. After it started charging users, however, they decided to build their own “without thinking through the legal aspect at the time.”

Jayant pointed out that there are a number of other Scrabble knockoffs online. “I’m not sure why Hasbro actually picked on this,” he added. Because, dude, you’re the best.

Looks like MySpace is working on a gaming portal. The URL for this page is games.myspace.com. This could be a hit if the games are less like the ones you can find on other casual game destinations (Yahoo Games, for example) and more like Facebook app games with a stronger social component to them. Social advergames on MySpace would also be an interesting ad channel.

There are plenty of Flash games out there for MySpace users to embed already, but I haven’t seen any that let you play with your friends.

Oh, and to the readers of this blog: I just got back from a vacation with no internet hook-up, but now we are back to our regular programming.