How Many Facebook Users Plan to Invest in its IPO?
Fifty-one percent, an AP-CNBC poll found. But half of Americans think the company's nearly $100 billion valuation is too high.
Americans aren't the only ones who are rolling their eyes at Facebook's valuation. According to CNBC, nearly two-thirds of "active investors" think that Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) will be overvalued at the aforementioned number.
Still, with 51% of its users throwing their support behind Facebook (in a poll, at least -- there's no telling how they'll actually behave when the company has its IPO), the social network still shows promise. Only 31% of Facebook's users think that the site won't be a good investment, while 17% are undecided.
The AP-CNBC poll then dug a little deeper and asked those who own stocks, bonds or mutual funds what they think of Facebook. Of those participants, the percentage of those who think that Facebook would be a good investment rose to 54%, a 3% increase. Thirty-four percent say they won't invest in Facebook. As expected, the poll found that active traders were more likely than other investors to believe that Facebook would be a good investment.
That right there could have been the end of the story. But the poll continued, finding that 59% of Facebook users do not trust the site with their personal information "and have little or no faith in the company to protect their privacy." (Surprisingly, the AP-CNBC poll also found that 13% of Facebook users "trust the company completely or a lot.")
Fifty-seven percent of Facebook users say they never click the ads or sponsored content they see while using the site; 26% click on them but do so "hardly ever." At the same time, 54% of participants say they would "not feel safe purchasing goods and services on Facebook."
From there, participants answered questions about Mark Zuckerberg and competing social networks, among others.
The Hidden Truth
What this ultimately tells us is that Facebook can grow to one billion users and it won't change the fact that people are unhappy with and/or skeptical of the service. But skepticism and dissatisfaction aren't enough to persuade users to leave. Sure, we've all read about the "many" Facebook users that have "disliked" the company for so long that they finally decided to leave. But what do these losses amount to? A one percent loss? A two percent loss? Even if it were that high, would Facebook even notice?
Chances are the number of lost users is much smaller than that. A much greater concern would be the number of dummy, duplicate, and abandoned accounts on Facebook. But the social network does not ever talk about that. You'll never hear Mark Zuckerberg point out the fact that a significant number of the 900 million Facebook "users" are pets, babies, or fictional characters. Yes, there is a real human behind each of those pages. But can Facebook really think of them as individual users?
That depends on whether or not those users have other Facebook pages. If they do, then each additional page would be considered a duplicate -- not an individual user. But don't expect Facebook's senior managers to address this issue anytime soon. Frankly, I'm not sure they ever will.
Then there is the issue of dummy accounts and those that have been abandoned. How many months or years does it take for Facebook to recognize that an inactive account can no longer be counted as one of its 900 million users? How many spam messages must a slimy website post on Facebook before the social network disregards it as a real user?
The IPO Will Still Soar
Investors have been cautious of tech IPOs for a wide variety of reasons, most notably their inability to prove that they have found a profitable and sustainable business model. Now that Groupon (the leader of the daily deals industry) is making progress, investors might think that Facebook (the leader of social networking) can do the same, even if it stumbles.
They could be right. While every critic in the world said that Groupon was doomed to fail because there was no way it could make money from its business model, the daily deals site continued to search for new ways to generate revenue. At the same time, Groupon kept its promise to reduce marketing costs. As a result of this and other improvements that Groupon has made, the company's stock has been soaring.
But even without Groupon's progress, there's little doubt in my mind that Facebook's IPO will be a success.
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