The IPO Effect: David Kirkpatrick Talks Facebook

By Julie D. Andrews 

Busted: We admit to a case of interview envy. David Kirkpatrick, who penned The Facebook Effect in 2010, was in the hot seat yesterday at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2012 summit.

Discussion topics ran the gamut, from what a post-initial public offering Facebook may look like, to predictions of upcoming acquisitions by the social network, and how it might solve its advertising platform dilemma.

Now that the company has gone public, analysts will make quarterly earnings projections. As such, it’s time for Facebook Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to “sell a lot of ads,” said Kirkpatrick, and to think about how to generate revenue, adding that the chief can no longer shoo away the task of money-making to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Kirkpatrick suggested that the opportunity for revenue is there to be captured, now that the hard work of innovation, of creating “an environment that can be so accurately targeted for advertising,” has already been done.

The average Facebook user does not care about ads, according to Kirkpatrick, who pointed out that in Indonesia, the social network’s fourth-largest market, ads are of no concern to users at all.

As for possible acquisitions, investments should “augment their platform capabilities, not their app capabilities,” said Kirkpatrick, because Facebook should be focused on being a platform. Pinterest and Tumblr should be up for consideration, he added, while TechCrunch’s Josh Constine thought the network would do well to consider peer-to-peer payments companies such as Venmo.

Kirkpatrick’s big message to Facebook was: Aim to do nothing different. What the startup kids did to get this far clearly worked, so there is no need to toy with the recipe.

Here’s the thing about advertising, though: It is not enough to tell brands that Facebook users “won’t mind” if they see ads plastered in the margins of their Facebook pages. Advertisers will likely want to hear that users will actually (gasp) look at their ads, possibly click on them, and, even better, be influenced enough to make a purchase.

Readers: What did you think of Kirkpatrick’s suggestions that Facebook look to acquire Pinterest and/or Tumblr?