Am I Really Worth $300 as a Facebook User?

    by Mark Glaser
    October 29, 2007

    i-f3f4822be07cbb425c7773698f5ff722-Facebook mini-feed.JPG
    “I do not plan on being on Facebook too much anymore — seems like a waste of time & it seems my friends cannot even take a breath without me receiving notification of it. E-mail is better!” That was the note I got from one of my new friends on Facebook who had become obsessed with Facebook, found that it hurt her productivity, and then decided to ditch it for email communication. Well, not exactly ditch it: She has changed her profile photo twice since making that plan to avoid Facebook.

    And so it goes. Facebook is still the talk of Silicon Valley as the great social networking site of the moment, with its open platform for developers to create mini-applications or widgets, and news feeds that let you know what all your friends and pseudo-friends are up to each and every minute. Outside of rumored projections of profitability, no one knows if or when the site will make money. Never mind that. Microsoft still paid $240 million for a 1.6% stake in Facebook that valued the startup at a heart-attack-inducing $15 billion. Can you say dot-com bubble redux?

    Pundit John Dvorak ran the numbers to find that this astronomical value amounts to $300 per user, if you assume that the 50 million people who have signed up for Facebook actually use it regularly. Dvorak figures that Google suckered Microsoft into buying an inflated stake in Facebook.


    “Microsoft has got to know that these social-networking schemes come and go, and that users jump around from one to the other like fleas on a hot brick,” he wrote. “I’m not seeing how this makes any sense to the company.”

    Me neither. About the only explanation that makes sense for this kind of valuation is that Microsoft has billions of dollars lying around, so why should $240 million matter? But that’s tortured logic. So let me try to put the $300 value on me as a Facebook user into sharp relief for Microsoft. I’ve been a Facebook member for a few years but only last summer did I really fill out my profile and pay attention to friend requests. Here’s what I’ve accomplished in my Facebook tenure:

    > Number of log-ins to Facebook per day: 1 or 2.


    > iLike Music Challenge points earned: 0.

    > SuperPokes in which I threw a sheep at someone: 1.

    > Posts on my SuperWall: 6.

    > Stripper names received: 1 (“Clint Sidesack”).

    > Groups I’ve joined: 14. Groups I’ve visited: 0.

    > Questions I’ve posed to friends: 3.

    > Times I’ve written in my friends’ “Honesty Box”: 2. Times they’ve written in mine: 0.

    > “Likeness Quiz Request” invites snubbed: 1.

    > Times I’ve been bitten by zombie friends: 2. Times bitten by vampires: 2. Times bitten by werewolves: 1. Times I’ve bitten back: 0.

    > Friend requests that have stumped me (i.e. um, who is that?): 29.

    > Number of cause (as in: “it’s for a good cause”) invitations sheepishly avoided: 4.

    > Number of pirate invitations heartily ignored: 1.

    > Amount of unread Facebook email messages: 24.

    > Amount of marketing Facebook email messages: 12.

    [Number of friend requests received while writing this blog post: 2.]

    I’m not saying that Facebook is a total waste of my time, or that I’m simply a party-pooper when it comes to playing zombie or “friending” perfectly nice strangers. What I’m trying to say is that Facebook has been an interesting social experiment, just like online gaming in its early days and Wikipedia, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to take over the world and be the next Google — or even take over my social life. And just why am I worth $300 as a user?

    What do you think? Are you addicted to Facebook or have you successfully avoided it? What do you think are its strong and/or weak points? Do you think Microsoft made a wise decision investing in Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Tagged: comments facebook microsoft social networking
    • Ben

      I ventured into FaceBook for about 2 weeks.
      But when I realised there was no real gain or loss to be had by biting someone or being bitten, it all seemed like a bit of a waste of time.
      I have plenty of other wholesome ways to waste my time.

    • Mark,

      This is kind of a silly article; please let me explain…

      FB’s base is college students. Because of your lack of identity with this group and your apparent lack of knowledge about what FB is used for your opinion is off the mark (pun intended).

      From your supposed list of ‘accomplishments’ it looks like you just joined FB to get a ‘feel’ for what it’s really all about, but in the process I don’t think you ever came close to ‘getting it.’

      I could list all of the things we use FB for, but I’d rather you figure that out on your own by really using the site or by talking with people who do. More importantly, let’s think about where something like FB is headed by asking some good questions.

      How do kids become popular and how does FB factor into that? What is popular/vogue these days and where do kids find out? What kind of impact do the news feed and wall have upon social status and awareness of others in the social environment? Pictures, videos, notes and blogs…these are all on FB. What are they used for and how do they connect the people that use them. What will happen once more FB users show up in the workplace? What happens when political candidates have to avoid uncomfortable questions about old frat party pics on FB when they’re running for office?

      It only took a few moments to type out these questions and quite frankly I don’t know whether or not I should be surprised that you didn’t touch on anything remotely related in your article. Either way, you should really re-consider your stance on this subject – not necessarily your opinion about the valuation – if not for any other reason than the fact that so far in your analysis you’ve missed the point entirely with regards to the real social value of FB and other sonets.

      Cheers – Devin

    • (Questions only a FB user would post. They seem to get caught up in overly useless details)

      Q: “How do kids become popular and how does FB factor into that?”
      A: Who cares?

      Q: “What is popular/vogue these days and where do kids find out?”
      A: Maybe they could actually *talk* to somebody.

      Q: “What kind of impact do the news feed and wall have upon social status and awareness of others in the social environment?”
      A: Awareness, sure. Value to real life, not.

      Q: “What will happen once more FB users show up in the workplace?”
      A: Less productivity. Period.

      Q: “What happens when political candidates have to avoid uncomfortable questions about old frat party pics on FB when they’re running for office?”

      I am a web developer and fully embrace social-networking and highly-interactive websites, but sites like FaceBook shouldn’t take the place of real life, which I think it has for some people.

    • LB

      I feel like I should be worth more than $300 bucks for all the time I waste at work while stalking bloated mid-college boys I knew in high school.

      We live in an age of hyperconnectedness. If we didn’t have Facebook, we would have a reason to touch base with most of the people who have befriended us using these social networking mediums.

      If you want the true answer why you’re “worth $300 bucks,” it’s because, much like the cell phone and the Internet, we’ll never go back.

      How long has it been since you physically (with your body, not hands) looked up a long lost buddy? Went to their mom’s house, tracked them down, found the number, called, left messages, waited for your calls to be returned, and then physically (not via e-mail) met them for coffee to catch up?

      It’s slightly absurd, but we’ve almost lost basic human connection, and I believe Microsoft makes BANK on that kind of thing.

      Great blog. -LB

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