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Last Friday my wife and I had dinner with our neighbors. Their son — a senior in high school — and his best friend joined us. True to form, I couldn’t resist asking them their thoughts on Facebook.
After some eye rolling and slight turns of the heads indicating I’m out of the high school cool kid loop, they responded:
“Yeah, like Facebook is just really bothering me right now. My parents and, you know, my parents’ friends are on there watching me. And I just heard, um, you know the guy who owns Facebook is like one of the richest guys in the world, all because he sells marketing companies all our private information.”
Wow. He continued:
“And, you know, I heard Facebook is now owned by Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) — you know, that company which screwed everyone.”
If that’s not the sign of a massive market opportunity to steal market share from Facebook, I don’t know what is.
Facebook is absolutely the social network of the moment. And the above is just anecdotal evidence. But Netscape was the browser of the moment back in the day, and newer players have evolved to give people browsers they like better. AOL (NYSE:AOL) was the community back in the day, and new players have evolved to give users communities they like better.
At the current pace, Facebook has arranged the chess board for history to rhyme.
Companies like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) have succeeded in creating walled gardens. To date, Facebook has too. But the walls at Facebook have clearly started bothering many users.
IMHO, over the next two years we will see a new player or host of players that will become cool with the cool kids. Why? Because over time people are smarter than we think — especially young people. And if word is spreading that Facebook “steals” your private information to make Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire who gives his private friends at Goldman an exclusive lottery ticket, the cool kids will look for cooler pastures.
It’s one thing for Zuckerberg et al to get paid handsomely for adding value to the “social graph.” It’s another to make a community of people feel like you’re saying, “F You, suckers.”
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