Why Facebook Is Still The Perfect Startup (Slides)

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Facebook had another tough day today in the public markets, with shares now trading at around $28 after debuting less than two weeks ago at $42.05. Good timing, then, for a new slideshow report out today from the boutique French consulting firm faberNovel, which encourages us to look at the bigger picture, and why, in its words, Facebook is “the perfect startup.”

The mammoth slideshow (after the break) is an annual thing for faberNovel, which picks one company to tackle each year — others have included how Amazon controls e-commerce, how Apple dominates, and what could go wrong with Google. Like those before, the one out today on Facebook is a deep-dive into the company, and it looks not just at the origins of the social network, but what sets it apart from other attempts at global social networks — and other startups. (And by the way, faberNovel sees all this drama and attention on the IPO as just “one point on a startup trajectory.” Some investors may not feel quite the same.)

In 94 fairly packed slides (no Kreiger approach here), there is a huge amount of data, occasionally usefully visualizing some of the biggest challenges the company faces. (Example: Facebook’s monetization issue. It is getting ten times more traffic than YouTube, but only one-tenth the revenue of YouTube’s owner, Google.)

A little later, looking back at Facebook’s different tests with advertising, faberNovel makes a good argument for how a lack of success with more traditional models has contributed to it being such an innovative company. Specifically, around new, social ad formats (that’s slide 34), even if some of those formats have yet to pay off when compared to how much time users spend on the site.

“Facebook has no choice but to change the game’s rules,” faberNovel explains, which is perhaps the crux of why it has done so well.

What caught my attention the most — possibly because of all the news of the past week swirling around Facebook and its mobile plans — was faberNovel’s take on Facebook’s mobile business.

Facebook already has a huge amount of users on mobile (more than 400 million of its 901 million active users are accessing by mobile), but it could quite possibly get squeezed out of mobile altogether because of Apple and Google’s own control of the ecosystems, and the fact that eventually other and better mobile apps will come along.

That has left Facebook with no choice but to beef up with acquisitions, more features and its own beginnings of a mobile platform. Specifically, faberNovel believes the App Center could really become a game-changer and the lynchpin for how Facebook begins to “own” its users on mobile devices.

FaberNovel then takes this one step further and proclaims that, with its large mobile user base and variety of services, “Facebook is a new breed of telco.”

It even idly wonders if the company could, one day, even operate its own ad-hoc Mesh network to put the final piece into the puzzle. Is that a speculation too far? In a world of $100-billion-plus valuations for largely free services, perhaps anything is possible.