What a Public Facebook Might Mean for Users

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Facebook went public a few days ago with the third largest IPO (Initial Public Offering) in history. For most Facebook users, the news was uninteresting. Facebook as a private company will be the same Facebook as a publicly traded company, right?

Probably not.

Private companies can decide where they want to go. They can invest money, talent, and research in any area they see fit. They can add, change, or remove services as they see fit. It’s their call. Public companies, however, are in business to make money. It’s their responsibility to the shareholders.

How will this affect you?

Well, here are some potential negatives:

  1. They will need more revenue from ads. Since they need to make a profit, we can only assume that they will turn up the dial on personalized ads. That’s more distractions and less privacy.
  2. They will open more revenue streams. Ads won’t be enough profit for shareholders; we should expect Facebook to look for more ways to monetize their services. Like the Facebook app store, we’ll see more and more paid extensions, services, and options from Facebook. How’s that bad? Apps are great, unwanted notifications about your friends wanting you to purchase something aren’t.
  3. They will continue to gobble up competition. Like their $1 billion purchase of Instagram, Facebook will buy everyone who poses a threat. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em!

But, there are some positives:

  1. They will try hard to cater to users. At this point, Facebook needs people to stick with them. Gone are the days that Facebook will suddenly update their site with major changes. Angry users lashing out will hurt their stock price. They’ll guard that closely.
  2. They will want to integrate with more services. If Facebook wants to keep from being the next MySpace, they will want to become tightly connected to every part of users’ lives (even more than they are now). Their next move will be to talk Apple into deep system integration in iOS much like their rival Twitter has now.
  3. They will move into new areas. Now, Facebook dabbles in several hobby areas: blogging (Notes), location (Check In), and business (Pages). Facebook will want to expand these into full-fledged services to compete with WordPress, FourSquare, and traditional web sites.

What do you think Facebook will change?

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