The Facebook Effect

Like it or not, Facebook is about to make its market debut when it IPOs in the middle of May. The company is fast approaching a billion users and has significant revenue, hitting $4 billion in 2011. Clearly, Facebook and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg have a successful business, but the question remains: is Facebook another social fad?

Internet-focused companies have been in the throes of IPO madness with firms like LinkedIn, Zynga and GroupOn going public with billion dollar valuations. But the aforementioned companies have not been in demand. Save for typical pop in market price during the first day of trading, these firms are no longer in demand and their share price reflects that sentiment.

The United States has become a service-based country, shedding its history of a nation focused on manufacturing. The hype around internet companies has reached an apex of madness, with people throwing around valuations like a Frisbee. Some argue that Facebook has value – it provides key demographics and insight into what people are interested in. Others think Facebook will bring both retail and institutional volume back into the market due to demand to own the stock. Others think the whole IPO and idea of Facebook is lunacy.

“I really don’t understand the value to any of the social media,” said one NYSE broker to Markets Media. “I guess something along the lines of how everything IPO’ing has been mispriced and manipulated- look at LinkedIn and how well that went. As far as I’m concerned, we are definitely in the midst of a bubble for social media.”

There’s the old adage of “don’t believe the hype” and while that’s applicable to many of the Internet-based companies that have gone public, Facebook appears to defy the norm. The massive demand behind the company defies logic and even sensible investing. Even if the buyside is weary of owning Facebook (and it’s not for the most part), the retail demand will benefit brokers catering to both high net worth and mom and pop clientele. People will undoubtedly buy Facebook, this is almost a given. But will people be getting in and out of the stock or holding on for the ride? That remains to be seen.

“Despite the bubble [of social media], I’m almost positive that Facebook is going to be beneficial for us in terms of volume. I’m not arguing that,” said the broker. “But what I worry about is after the initial hype, what happens? Are people going to want this thing or are they trying to scalp it for a quick buck? That I’m unsure of.”