Last week the United States witnessed the initial public offering of the largest social network and the shares have begun trading on the Nasdaq. While most are interested in where the stock price is going to end at the end of each day, I am more interested in watching the transition of the organization, going from a private to a public company, and the direction it will take from here.
I do not claim to have a crystal ball, but here are my 10 predictions for what is in store for Facebook:
Acquisitions. With more liquidity, Facebook has the power to gobble up technology companies that can complement its services, similar to what it recently did with Instagram. For a period of time, this will also be a great way for the organization to deal with new competitors.
As Facebook increases in size, it will be interesting to see how diverse the products and services become. For example, will we see something like Facebook Financial - an arm dedicated to servicing investors online?
Search. Google stands in Facebook's way for total Internet dominance. The stronghold that Google has, that Facebook does not, is in its search engine that keeps individuals coming back over and over. It would not be a surprise, with Facebook's soon-to-be 1 billion users throughout the world (equaling 1/7th of all humanity), it will make a push to get into the search engine game in a big way, similar to how Google+ is trying hard to penetrate the social network arena.
Advertising. Going public puts pressure on most organizations to make their quarterly earnings projections and Facebook will be no different. Advertising revenue will be a key to future revenue, so we will see more and more of it, and ads will be more effective than what is being offered today.
Privacy. The underlying key to the potential future of Facebook's success is the data that it captures from its users. With this information, the right marketing minds can increase sales of products and services with incredibly focused messages, ultimately lowering their traditional marketing expenses. What will stand in Facebook's way are the pressures for new policies that will surely impact almost all companies doing business on the Internet.
Leadership. There are a lot of directions Facebook can go. It will take a visionary to see many chess moves ahead. To get there, hoodie-wearing Zuckerberg cannot just take huge risks and expect stakeholders to agree to them. As a result, the 28 year old will have to develop improved skills to get the herd to follow. The biggest risk to his leadership will be the stock price. If it falls, he might fall too (although he has a pretty nice safety net.)
Similar to what happened to Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg might find himself out on the street, pressured to leave his own company, but it would be hard to see this happening in the short term, unless he wants it to happen. Under Zuckerberg's leadership, there have been bumps in the road, but the company has grown from a simple idea on a college campus to a revolutionized way of life for us all.
Globalization. Facebook has a strong hold on the United States, but a bigger potential for the social network is all over the rest of the world. As adoption rates increase in other countries, Facebook's potential will skyrocket.
Mobility. The freedom that smart phones and tablets provide to access information when and wherever a person wants it will continue to explode. It will create whole new ways of commerce and Facebook's apps will be there to get a piece of the action.
Currency. It would not be a surprise if Facebook can find a way to replace some of the need for hard currency, as our world continues to move into the digital age. By going public, now there will be an increased focus on monetizing the social network, so it will be interesting how this takes shape.