NEW YORK (
) -- For those of you thinking I have become the leader of the
(FB - Get Report)
apologists club, I'm here to tell you that is not the case.
However, I do tend to make it my business to interject whenever I come across conversations that exclude factors such as logic. In some circles, it's considered not minding one's business.
But in the new age of the Internet and open discussion, there is no such thing. Ironically, it is sites such as Facebook that have now taken this concept to a whole different level to the extent where it is now being loathed for having become great at doing what it once promised to do.
Among the increased levels of scrutiny the company continues to face regarding its business and also for having a valuation that exceeds that of companies such as
from a standpoint of price-to-earnings ratio, Facebook now finds itself under attack and having to defend its credibility from investors that have started to question
what is really in that 900 million number
that it boasts about?
For some investors, 900 million is just too large of a number so therefore it can't be real. My response to that is "so what!" Because I see this as merely a continuation of what has been a string of sour-grapes reactions that have unfolded since the company's IPO did not perform as well as some investors would like.
In fact, I would venture to say that if the stock was sitting at $45 today, nobody would bother to raise the question. Instead, what we have are a group of people that somehow want to equate the disappointment from an IPO that was mispriced from the start, with a fundamental flaw within the company.
It seems that the target is now the 900 million reported accounts.
However, this is where investors are making another significant mistake by not understanding the laws of large numbers. As the chart above shows, Facebook continues to acquire users at a rate of 35% per year as it only reported 664 million in the first quarter of 2011. However, when readers are not questioning whether the 900 million is real, the argument is that how much more growth can the company acquire if it already has 15% of the world's population on it -- such as a reader from my recent article named
who offered this:
They have captured most of the market of people likely to have a modicum of discretionary income. But per capita means all men, women and children. So, there isn't much upside left and this assumes all these people have computers or access to them and the Internet. About half the people I know have a FB account, but just use it as a free convenience and don't buy anything.
So where is the revenue driver other than advertisers who may eventually figure out, like General Motors(GML), that the ad dollars aren't creating the revenues normally expected (an anticipated 20-to-1 return). So FB is already a mature company and could eventually become another MySpace once the next fad site comes along.
Though the reader made a valid point, clearly she has not taken into account the company's global reach, and it has only started to grow. The chart below shows exactly to what extent over the past 12 months. So, essentially, of the 900 million accounts, the company has enjoyed exceptional growth and penetration in every geographic region of the world except North America where it has remained flat at 50%.