Facebook has been receiving a lot of press recently over a potential $500 million Microsoft investment resulting in a $10 billion valuation. The only way Facebook can justify such a high valuation is by becoming the social backbone of the web. As I’ve previously mentioned, Facebook and Google are going to become the two primary companies leading the charge in attempting to own our social graphs. Dave Winer has it wrong when he says that people should just call Facebook a social network.
I would agree if it weren’t for the fact that Facebook is not stopping at just being a place for friends to communicate. Both Google and Facebook are now attempting to accomplish what OpenID failed at doing: own your identity in terms of your social relationships. The only way that this will work for Facebook is if they take down the walls of their existing social network.
Not even I, a self-proclaimed Facebook evangelist, believe that the web is going to exist within Facebook. Pigs will fly before the entire internet decides to all become blue and white. It just won’t happen. All the competing social networks are going to launch platforms as well but none of them have been as successful with mapping our real life connections. To really validate a $10 billion or $15 billion valuation, Facebook will have to become the social backbone of the web or at least attempt to become it.
The company that is going to win the race to become the owner of the “social backbone” is going to have to be completely open. The web as a whole, will simply not work within the confines of Facebook. Alternatively, Facebook can choose to keep up the wall, remain a social platform and go down in history as the most hyped, most overvalued social network in history. Which choice do you think they will make?