Despite the fact that Facebook has repeatedly stressed that it will never charge for its service, suggestions to that effect emerge constantly, and the latest came from Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone, who wrote in a post on his blog that if the social network launched a Facebook Premium service for $10 per month, and 10 percent of its user base signed up, $1 billion in monthly revenue would be generated.
Stone wrote that his vision of Facebook Premium would offer users no ads, as well as exclusive features, and he pointed to Pandora’s success with the music streaming service’s ad-free premium offering.
He wrote in his blog post:
Now that I use Facebook more regularly, I started having some ideas for the service. Here’s one.
Everybody thinks that because I’m one of “the Twitter guys,” I must be good at using all social media. The truth is, if I can’t figure an application out in a minute, I usually move on to something else. Too many settings and options frustrate and confuse me. I like making simple stuff because I enjoy simple stuff.
When Facebook first came out, I signed up as soon as I could. Then I made the mistake of heedlessly accepting every incoming request until my account was so busy I couldn’t keep up. On top of that, Facebook added thousands of settings, features, and choices. Whenever I tried to get back into it, I became overwhelmed.
However, now that some former Facebook employees work with me at my new startup, Jelly, I’m using Facebook. (Jelly Chief of Staff) Camille (Hart) actually leaned over my shoulder and helped me go through every setting to simplify my Facebook experience on iPhone. Now I’m keeping up with friends and family on Facebook like a billion other people.
People love Facebook. They really love it. My mother-in-law looks hypnotized when she decides to put in some Facebook time. In general, the ads on Facebook don’t seem particularly useful or engaging. However, ads on the service are universally tolerated because that’s what makes Facebook free, and free is nice.
Anywhoo, now that I’m using it and thinking about it, I’ve got an idea for Facebook. They could offer Facebook Premium. For $10 per month, people who really love Facebook (and can afford it) could see no ads. Maybe some special features, too. If 10 percent of Facebook signed up, that’s $1 billion per month in revenue. Not too shabby.
It’s a different type of company, but by way of validation, have a look at Pandora’s first-quarter-2014 financial results. Of all Pandora’s revenue generators, the highest growth year-over-year by far (114 percent growth rate) is in subscriptions — people paying a monthly fee for an ad-free experience. So there you have it. “Fuck yeah.” Right?
Readers: Would you pay $10 per month to experience an ad-free Facebook?