Now, I am CLEARLY no MBA-carrying titan of industry, but will join their ranks in a collective, skeptical, beard-stroking, "Hmmmmmm...something... seems...odd." My skepticism is justified, too - I have been an employee at a company that went through an IPO as well as one that was bought up by a publicly-traded company. Though neither experience turned out well in the end, I can emphatically say that my focus or morale were the LAST thing on the executive management's minds.
No, the only thing IPO and publicly-traded companies focus on is how to produce a bottom line that keeps the stock moving ever-upward. Now, some people like me may debate that THAT idea is pretty darn impossible to attain and that the course of every business, like Adam Smith's economic model summarizes in The Wealth of Nations, rolls through a natural course of ups and downs. But, that's a different conversation for a different time.
Back to the Facebook situation. Though I have been a fan of it and the "Social Networking" revolution it helped evolve, I have always wondered why it has carried such a high value in potential investors' minds. Furthermore, after watching, The Social Network, I have been dubious of how much "The Zuck" is really worth. This is due to two pretty strong, logical reasons:
First, while it is easy to understand that Facebook's primary source of income is demographic-based ad generation similar to Google's model, there is one CRUCIAL difference between the systems. Google's Ad Word gadgets that carry click through ads DO NOT require exclusive access to its ecosystem via an @gmail.com account. Facebook's ad exchange technology requires you to have a user account so you can log in to see what ads have been "hand selected" for you. This minor difference carries an exponentially monstrous difference in the revenue potential Facebook's model by restricting it to its registered users. And, while there are a lot of Facebook users out there trolling the Internet, that number pales in comparison to the amount of users outside of its exclusive club and simply, "...driving the Information Superhighway Facebook-less."
All you have to do is look at every blog or other privately produced website you have bookmarked that has advertisements linked to it - have you ever seen as advertising box that says "Ads by Facebook"?
The second reason for my skepticism is tied to the fact that, no matter what anybody says about the gargantuan value of Facebook, we outsiders have ZERO idea of what that number really is. The reason for this is pretty simple - Facebook is a privately held company that doesn't have to reveal anything to anybody outside its private investors about its books. Sure, people on the inside hint at that Facebook is a "license to print money", but they don't have to reveal why they think that. Heck, with that mentality I could have my daughter start a lemonade stand as "Poorman Citrus Refreshments, LLC", and tell anybody who will listen she is reinventing the iced beverage sales industry and value it at one billion dollars - I don't have to show anybody the balance sheets to prove it.
No, the Facebook IPO delay is for a deeper reason than employee morale. While many people (including myself) think there is an information-based economy evolving as we live and breathe, the concept is still pretty immature. And while companies like Google are successfully forging a revenue path with the new model, companies like Facebook are going to need to take a second look at their "Castles in the Air" to see if the vox populi agrees with what they claim it is worth. Just watch LinkedIn's stock over the next year or two to see if I'm right or wrong.
P.S. - I'm going to go with the former :-).