Facebook’s stock just hit a new low and has now lost more than 50% of its value since the social network’s IPO in May. This new record low comes after analyst firm BMO Capital Markets cut its price estimate on the company’s shares from $25 to $15 today. Research firm eMarketer also just announced that it expects Facebook’s revenue for this year will remain under the company’s previous estimates. eMarkteter now predicts that Facebook’s ad revenue will reach $4.23 billion for 2012. That’s up 34% from 2011, but eMarkter previously estimated that Facebook could reach ad revenues of up to $5 billion this year.
Facebook’s stock already reached a new low earlier this month after its early investors finally got a chance to sell their shares on August 16. At that time, Facebook’s stock was still worth over $19.60, though. Today, the stock is hovering around $18.15. The initial IPO price for the company’s stock was $38.
It’s worth noting that while the expiration of the last lockup period already put a lot of pressure on the stock, a far larger number of shares will become available for trading in mid-November when the next lockup period expires. MarketWatch’s Dan Gallagher notes that 271 million shares were released in mid-August, but 1.2 billion shares could hit the market in mid-November, which will likely put even more pressure on the stock price.
So what should Facebook do? Read Josh Constine’s thoughts: Stay The Course, Facebook. Even If Your Share Price Crashes
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 845 million monthly active users.
Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.
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When it comes to music discovery, technology and the Internet opened a lot of possibilities. Yet, and this is what Serendip is all about, music curation by your friends or knowledgeable people are frequently much more valuable than what you could get from an automated service. Today, Serendip is launching out of private beta and is now available for everyone.
The service aggregates all the songs that your friends share on Twitter and Facebook and arrange them in a playlist. Then, it includes some songs by users who liked the same artists as you or your friends.
You can choose to follow them to get the music that they share in your playlist. In other words, Serendip helps you find your music soul mate, the person with whom you share the same taste in music.
On the technological side, Serendip uses YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud and Bandcamp to create the playlists. It puts the videos or songs back to back. Every user gets a profile page where songs shared on Twitter, Facebook or Serendip can be played. You can share this profile on the web to show what kind of music you like.
Other than that, it looks and acts a lot like Twitter. You follow people in order to see their songs in your stream. You can even ReAir a song. If you like a user playlist, you can share it using a link on Twitter or Facebook for example.
Finally, there are some people in your Facebook friends or that you follow on Twitter with whom you don’t share the same view on music at all. You have the ability to mute them on Serendip in the settings. That way, they won’t clog your playlist. If you liked an artist page or a radio page on Facebook, the songs they share will appear on the service as well.
The service shares some similarities with This Is My Jam but tries to focus more on discovering DJs you may like. It now has six employees and has received almost $1 million in seed funding.
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It’s a logical change for the company as it expands beyond Zimbio.com, which was its first property, and which still accounts for the majority of its traffic. Founded in 2006, Livingly (a cross between “living” and “lovingly”) launched the fashion site StyleBistro.com in 2010, and it recently acquired home decor publication Lonny Magazine.
I met with co-founder and CEO Tony Mamone earlier this week — he describes Livingly as a technology-driven media company. It uses technology to aggregate content, allowing the company to build a big library of celebrity-related content for a relatively low cost, but there’s also a human layer to curate that content, and to do old-fashioned things like write and edit articles.
Livingly says its three properties now reach 30 million global monthly readers. Mamone says the company will continue to launch new lifestyle sites, with the goal of entering the comScore top 10 for whichever category it’s targeting. (Zimbio.com is currently #5 in entertainment news, while StyleBistro.com is in the top 10 for fashion, beauty, and style.)
He also says that he’s not interested in following the path of other online media companies and building a larger ad network around Livingly’s core properties. The online advertising world is increasingly splitting into two worlds, Mamone argues — premium, custom campaigns, and standardized ads that make money through volume. And while Livingly properties certainly take advantage of the latter approach, the company needs to own and operate all of its properties to fully embrace the former, he says.
Livingly will also be making its first foray into mobile apps later this year, with the launch of a Lonny Magazine iPad app. Lonny made sense as the company’s first mobile launch, because it’s already being published in a magazine-style format, but Mamone plans to develop apps for the other Livingly properties too.
Zimbio reaches an audience of more than 25 million across fashion, beauty, celebrity and entertainment. Zimbio.com is comScore’s #5 entertainment news site. StyleBistro.com, the company’s second title, was launched in late 2010 and was 2011’s fastest growing style site, entering comScore’s top-ten in its first year. Brands are connected with this deeply engaged and influential audience through high impact media placements and innovative content integrations.
Zimbio was founded in late 2006 with the goal of bringing high quality, deeply…
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Hardware generally doesn’t interest me too much, so when I heard about the Open Compute project I didn’t give it too much attention. Casually reading up on the subject a little more left me even less interested. Why should Facebook have to design their own hardware, I wondered? Wouldn’t hardware vendors be clambering over each other to supply Facebook with gobs and gobs of servers for their data centers?
Amir Michael, Facebook’s hardware lead, discussed the Open Compute project in a keynote presentation at LinuxCon. He laid out the root problem: hardware manufacturers, in an effort to provide differentiation, were actually creating more problems than they were solving. The on-system instrumentation that OEMs provided for Facebook created additional complexity, and ultimately wasted space and produced unnecessary heating concerns.
The HPs and Dells and IBMs of the world had established a very successful business for themselves selling servers with their own customizations, and in smaller quantities those customizations did provide some modicum of benefit to their customers. When you’re buying several hundred servers from a single manufacturer, that manufacturer’s management tools are easy to consume.
But when you’re buying several thousand servers at a time from multiple vendors, the different management tools simply get in the way. The differences between chassis designs and motherboard layouts complicate service issues for the data center staff.
Facebook made the remarkable decision to solve this problem for themselves. They designed their own power supply, which reached 95% efficiency. They designed a vanity free server case, which provided easier access for technicians. This resulted in an unexpected benefit for heat dissipation. They went on to design a motherboard with no cruft: just the absolute essentials for the computing requirements. This mainboard was cheaper to produce, and also shared improved thermal properties. And finally, Facebook redesigned the venerable server rack to make it substantially easier to access, move, and deploy.
An important, but oft-overlooked ancillary benefit to Facebook’s vanity-free and minimalist designs is that they involve less waste, both in the production process but also in the disposal process. When you’re buying thousands of servers, this becomes a very important ecological issue. Computer waste is a serious environmental concern, and too many consumers of technology ignore the consequences of disposal.
Recognizing that their data center headaches couldn’t possibly be unique, Facebook shared all of their design specifications, CAD drawings, and reference materials under open licenses to their newly formed Open Compute Project.
The reason for this decision, as Michael said in his presentation, is that “openness always wins.” He pointed to the advent of the USB standard as the perfect illustration of this point. Prior to USB, the PC industry was plagued with finnicky peripherals and an abundance of sub-standard interface options. USB, developed openly and in collaboration with multiple interested parties, reshaped the peripheral market into what we enjoy today.
My first question to Michael was “Why didn’t the market solve this problem?” Specifically, why didn’t any of Facebook’s hardware vendors recognize the problem and address it. He pointed out that the bulk of the work began in 2009, when Facebook was considerably smaller than it is today. None of Facebook’s vendors really saw the scale to which Facebook could grow, and as such didn’t see a need to change their products in any meaningful way. The notion of “scale out deployments” hadn’t quite hit the mainstream.
Michael shared with me that all of their internally developed specifications are shared with multiple vendors, and manufacturing proposals are reviewed internally through a democratic process. Each proposal is analyzed according to a number of factors.
When a hardware design is approved for manufacturing, Facebook always uses two vendors for production. The end result is two identical products from two discrete vendors; but this results in supply-chain diversity and improved product continuity: both of which are important factors when dealing with production runs at the scale Facebook demands.
Michael pointed out that all of the benefits of scale out development — power, cooling, ease of access — benefit small and medium business consumers just as much as enormous data centers. He also shared that the response to the Open Compute project was unexpected. The reference designs were adopted by participants in a number of different markets and tweaked to provide the kinds of benefits needed in those markets.
Historically, large scale providers have been cagey talking about the details of their infrastructure. As a result of the Open Compute project, more and more organizations are growing comfortable talking about the specifics of their data centers. This is slowly resulting in better design and implementation decisions, which will in the long run be better for the environment.
Say what you will about Facebook’s business and marketing decisions, but you can’t argue that they’re doing the world a favor by reducing waste in computer manufacturing designs. The issues involved will only get more important as more and more technology is manufactured. The Open Compute project is a great start. We need more involvement in things like this. We also need to make sure that we’re adequately dealing — as an industry — with the proper disposal of end-of-life hardware.
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Editor’s note: Jason Best and Sherwood Neiss led the U.S. fight to legalize debt and equity based crowdfunding, co-authored Crowdfund Investing for Dummies and founded Crowdfund Capital Advisors where they provide strategy and technology services those seeking to benefit from crowdfund investing.
Hopes for startup crowfunding will have to wait for the federal bureaucracy to give it their stamp of approval: earlier this week the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) came out with a draft version of what they have in mind. Oddly enough, it doesn’t say much other than proceed with caution. Now the public has 30 days to comment before the SEC takes all those comments together to come out with the law. Coming out with a draft puts a hold on the ability of scrappy innovators to collect funding from their friends and family, further delays the ability of our nation’s entrepreneurs to innovate and create jobs and adds more confusion to laws that were meant to ease regulations. The result of this action will increase capital flows to securities attorneys and NOT entrepreneurs.
On April 5th Congress passed the JOBS Act, a bill that was designed to leverage the advances in technology to increase access to capital for entrepreneurs by easing regulatory and legal costs. It would allow entrepreneurs to raise capital through crowdfunding platforms instead of the expensive private placement route used today. In order to make crowdfunding effective existing “general solicitation rules” must be updated. (General solicitation is the act of a company publicly talking about raising money on places like the Internet – that’s illegal). The SEC has very strict rules about who can hear about a stock (aka security) offering and how they can hear about it. Today companies looking to raise capital through the sale of stock in their companies must either register the offering with the SEC (which costs a small fortune) or rely on an exception (aka exemption) from registration, the name of the exemption most companies use is called a Regulation D (Reg D) offering.
Most of the SEC’s exemptions from registration prohibit companies from engaging in general solicitation or general advertising. The goal of prohibiting solicitation is to protect naïve investors from snake oil salesmen. The reality is that we cannot use the ways most people communicate today (the Internet) to connect people who have money and are willing to invest with entrepreneurs who stand ready to build businesses and create jobs. Crazy, right?
This new change will allow stockbrokers to advertise stocks for sales to an important sector of the public in ways that have not been possible in 78 years. This change is called “lifting the ban on general solicitation”. In our opinion, this is a good thing, because lifting this ban will allow private companies to raise money from a larger pool of “accredited investors” now, and in the future (when crowdfunding is permitted), from the general public that is not accredited. (FYI, accredited investors make over $200,000/year in income or have over $1M in liquid net worth (meaning excluding the value of any real estate).
According to SEC data, the estimated amount of capital raised in Reg D offerings (the ones that used the exemption) in 2011 was just over $1 trillion. In an economic climate whereby capital is increasingly hard to come by, Reg D offerings play a critically important role in the financial markets. There are about 6,000,000 accredited investors in the USA and only 10% of them are active private investors.
Prior to the JOBS Act, reaching an accredited investor via a Reg D offering required a preexisting relationship making it hard to connect someone with money in Miami, FL or Park City, UT to an entrepreneur in Cleveland, OH. Now, the Internet can allow entrepreneurs to reach these investors via a broker/dealer and their social network. Moving the capital flow needle just a small percent can have a tremendous impact not only for capital formation but for cash strapped businesses and jobs.
When an investor wants to make an investment in a private company today, the investment banker that sells those share, is required to make sure that investor is accredited. They do this by having investors complete and sign a questionnaire that certifies that they have a level of wealth and understand the risks. This form of “self-certification” puts the burden on the investor to acknowledge the risk. It is the only way to have a scalable model. Seems simple right? “Are you accredited?” Yes or No? Can you imagine if people were forced to submit tax returns or W-2’s? No one would make investments in private companies…way too much big brother.
Rather than take the path the SEC’s been taking for years (self-certification) or providing a mechanism for investors to prove accreditation, the SEC, who was opposed to lifting the ban in the first place, came out with a proposed ruling that muddies the water even more.
Without telling companies how to certify an investor they came out with a ruling today saying that it is hard to tell companies what to do because the facts and circumstances of each stock offering vary so much. If they come out with one size fits all rule then it could be too onerous or too costly. A simple rule should have been, “Congress told us to remove the ban so we are and the way in which we’ve been allowing accredited investors to self-certify is the way in which we should move forward.” Rather than crafting ways in which the reduce fraud, the SEC has punted. This is not the way to create more jobs and innovation…except if want to do so for lawyers.
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