I can’t tell you how much I love riding Uber. Ever since I’ve moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve been hanging out downtown and other neighborhoods until late at night when there’s either no bus service readily available or a scarcity of cabs and in desperate need to get home. My problems continue when there are cabs available and either (a) don’t stop, or (b) do stop and tell me that they can’t take me to my destination. Why? I have no idea…but while some might decide to wallow in their desperation about just how they can get home, thankfully I have Uber to come in and save my day. While I’m not enjoying the fact that it’s quite expensive over the course of time, every now and then, I find it necessary and that even worth spoiling myself over just to call on Uber to get me home or wherever I need them to take me.
So you’ll understand my excitement when I travel to another city and discover that Uber is there as well–just this past weekend, I was in Los Angeles and decided to venture out from my hotel to a bar to hang out with my friends. Normally I would probably hop in a cab, but after finding out that Uber was servicing the area, I decided to go that route and was pleased with the response.
Unfortunately, my experience with this great disruptive service isn’t necessarily shared by everyone–not every really cares for what Travis Kalanick and Ryan Graves has done, and there are some that are trying to stifle it in favor of continued promotion of a traditional system and favored industry. In Washington, DC, a town with a growing tech community, the city council recently debated over an amendment to their city that would revolutionize their dilapidated cab service, but punish Uber’s DC service. Why? No one really seems to know the truth to why the DC city council would go that route, but some may speculate that the taxi industry is a powerful lobby in the city. Even politicians have tried to punish the startup–in early January, DC Taxicab Commission chairman Ron Linton used a sting to try and claim that Uber’s operations in the nation’s capital were illegal. Other cities have been hammering on the service as well. But what do they have to fear? Another method for people to get around? Something ingenious that uses technology to help provide better response? An even easier method that would help expedite payments? Who knows, but it seems to have gotten worse for Uber…
Nearly three weeks ago, one of the biggest IPOs in the tech industry, hit the public market and many expected the company to create instant millionaires and be a rousing success. That company, Facebook, had so many people rooting for its success. Unfortunately as we know now, due to some transactional issues that occurred within the NASDAQ system, there were a few trades that didn’t get through, which spoiled the social network’s debut on the public market. On top of that, the overall price of Facebook fell dramatically and now it’s slowly trying to work its way back up to something where people will start to care about it.
Who knows what exactly is the reason for where Facebook is today–it could be a variety of factors including things like there being too much hype about Facebook going public that caused its unfortunate predicament it finds itself. Some might speculate that investors found themselves a bit “put off” at the lack of care given to them by Facebook founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the IPO roadshow, or that Facebook is pursuing opportunities without concern for the shareholders (e.g. purchasing Instagram for $1 billion). Whatever it exactly was, no one will really know.
But if you disregard all of the media hype and speculation, what would be the right reasons for someone to purchase a share of the social network? Is Facebook even worth it? Sure, you have tons of analysts and pundits who hypothesize about Facebook’s worth and a bunch of could have, would have, should have, but is there any factual basis about the company that would lead people to invest their money? Historically, has Facebook become a company that has people jumping out of their seats eager to throw money at or has their actions over the past eight years been shoddy and while many people think Facebook is worth the quick sell, they don’t believe in its viability in the long term? What exactly makes Facebook so much damn better than all of the other social networks and its predecessors that shows its success?
By now you’ve probably heard about Facebook’s recent outage. You know, that time when everyone’s productivity either went up or was further distracted by Twitter or Google+. This afternoon, for at least a couple of hours, the massive social network took a brief hiatus and decided that people needed to take a break. It’s quite fascinating that today’s outage occurred, not because that it’s anything new, because it isn’t — Facebook has suffered and endured multiple outages over the past eight years of its existence and still managed to keep a fairly good record of uptime. Actually, because of where the company stands right now and its incredible influence over hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, websites, and services.
Facebook is now officially a public company–an entity with far-reaching implications on others that interact with it. This outage, no matter how short of a duration, can pose some risk, albeit most likely minimal, in terms of people’s confidence in investing in Facebook. Frankly, could the social network stand further scrutiny over its stock? It’s currently selling for around 22% below what it started out with a week ago. But that’s not the biggest issue that concerns me and maybe others. It’s actually the fact that now with Facebook playing such a pivotal role in services and applications, shouldn’t the company be a bit more forthcoming and proactive in helping inform the public of any of these outages so that alternative plans can be thought about or implemented?
We’re mere days away from the much anticipated Facebook IPO and all interested parties seem to be in an eleventh hour frenzy. First GM pulls $40 million worth of Facebook ad revenue from the site. Next comes a report making the rounds in major news outlets that Facebook ad clicks pale in comparison to Google ads. The AP now says this lack of trust may even cut into Facebook ad sales, which make up 82% of all current revenue for the site. Things don’t look so good for this week’s stock market darling…
But keep in mind this is all right before Friday (the rumored IPO D-day). The initial poll data from Associated Press-CNBC suggesting the ads on Facebook are ineffective comes in conveniently right before the IPO.
And these results only serve to heighten fears that the stock may be overpriced. Facebook lifted the stock price on Tuesday from $28-$35 to $34-$38 a piece. More seasoned investors caution against investing right away, while over half of those surveyed say they think Facebook is a good bet. However, one poll of 1004 users (by telephone, ahem) does not make for an accurate picture.
Facebook has almost 1 billion active monthly users, more than half use a cell phone and are under the age of 40.
There’ve been plenty of previous case studies (Expedia went from 250k fans to over 1 million with effective Facebook advertising). Ford even made a jab at GM on Tuesday with a post about how they model their advertisements to have engaging content. And those searching can now find a swirl of discussion around how to make their ads more effective if they weren’t initially.
It’s the start of a brand new week and this one is especially special since it’s the week where Facebook is rumored to be issuing their IPO. There has certainly been a lot of questions and news surrounding the upcoming public release of Facebook stock, but what’s probably the most surprising came out of a recent article that featured a quote by analyst Michael Patcher, who is the managing director of Wedbush Securities, that said “Mark and his signature hoodie:He’s actually showing investors he doesn’t care that much; he’s going to be him…I think that’s a mark of immaturity…” Soon the debate over whether Facebook’s IPO was worth pursuing shifted from whether the social network could hold up their end of the bargain, in the face of a growing mobile issue to now being about the wardrobe attire of its famed founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg and its apparent tie to him being too immature to lead.
Naturally here in Silicon Valley, many founders of the best companies and startups that are succeeding and going public have young founders, but should their wardrobe affect how they lead? Of course the industry covered this with even one respected writer saying that it’s ridiculous. Enthusiastic angel investor and founder of 500 Startups, Dave McClure went on a wild twitter rant soon after the announcement and AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher called Mr. Patcher simply a “doofus”. Fellow startup entrepreneurs defended Mr. Zuckerberg’s attire simply by saying that the infamous hoodie did not really correlate to the market performance–the company would still probably reach $1 billion in profits. In fact, Box’s CEO, Aaron Levie, of which is probably in good shape to mimic Facebook’s success in the cloud storage department, was quoted as saying:
After Facebook hit $1B in profits, you’d think investors would start demanding Zuck wear a hoodie. Yahoo CEO: No hoodie; AOL CEO: No hoodie; Facebook CEO: hoodie. Coincidence?