Is it time for Facebook to update its status?
Facebook, usually a brand most associated with consumer stories, made its first big B2B announcement this month. Suddenly it wasn’t interested in how many users it had, or whether any of them could work out their privacy settings. It was interested grown-up things like investors, and advertisers, and share prices.
A lot was riding on the results of the IPO. Some people even said the future of the global economy was riding on it, as the performance of Facebook’s shares would tell us whether we’ve been looking at another Valley-based bubble on the verge of popping. Facebook needed to control its message carefully, speak in business-to-business tones, and put on a suit.
Instead, Mark Zuckerberg wore a hoodie on his IPO roadshow. At the time this created a huge amount of press coverage – some people said he was being disrespectful to the financial community, some said that he just didn’t care.
Then, they hacked the NASDAQ opening bell so that it automatically updated Zuckerberg’s status in real time to say “Mark Zuckerberg listed a company on NASDAQ”. Cute, but a little lightweight for the largest IPO in history, perhaps?
The final piece of news coming from the Facebook camp, just a few days after the stock was listed, was a wedding snap of Zuckerberg and new wife Priscilla. This time, he wore a suit. Was this a direct comment on the negative press from his hoodie-wearing days? Or was the marriage designed to show that Zuck has feelings and isn’t just a billionaire in flip-flops?
Either way, in the days after the opening bell rang, the news was mixed. Share prices faltered, a NASDAQ glitch on the second day of trading caused created some very stressed investors, and a lawsuit was settled with users angry at their personal details being used in Facebook advertising.
Since it was founded, Facebook has been an aggressive upstart, and not afraid to go against the grain. It wants to own the entire web, and be a platform for apps. It says that is care about our privacy, but users don’t think it does (and don’t really care either way). It has revolutionized the way businesses market themselves, cutting numerous advertising agencies, planners and buyers out of marketing mix. But the business itself is still a bit of an enigma, and that can’t last when you’re listed.
Overall, you just don’t feel confident when watching the scene unfold. Should Zuckerberg have worn a suit to the roadshows? Probably. Did anyone care about the wedding? Possibly not. Should a $100bn company that relies on other businesses for survival act a bit more grown up? Definitely.