NEW YORK (
) -- For better or worse, in these nutty days, you just can't judge
(FB - Get Report)
by its cover.
On the downside, the social media giant is finally sobering up to reality after its pre-IPO crack high. Investors are figuring out that a business with Harvard,
and a major motion picture behind it actually might not be much of a business at all. Instead of headlines and widely quoted figures about Facebook being magically worth $50 billion, as was the case when Goldman placed its Facebook bet in January 2011, now the
that this book has lost $50 billion in value since it went public.
And the howling chorus of questions about the firm is on the rise.
Rob Cox, who reliably writes about digital investments over at
, noticed that while sales and subscribers sound cool, costs matter too. Revenue may be up $2.4 billion in the first six months of 2012, as he wrote last week, but costs rose even higher -- to $2.6 billion in the same period.
Even the gritty issues of social media click fraud and ad effectiveness are finally dinner table conversation for investors. Manorville, N.Y.-based
, which offers a Web retail sales service for bands and artists, was widely reported to have
deleted its Facebook page
due to nonhuman bots that sapped value.
To be fair -- which is most definitely getting overlooked in this ugly din -- Facebook is taking these issues seriously. Limited Run said in a follow-up post that the company is investigating its problems. And the social media giant is conducting industry outreach. It worked with a metrics shop, Reston, Va.-based
, on a white paper called
The Power of Like 2
to spell out the argument for social media as an ad medium.
And -- even more startling for Facebook -- real company executives are answering real journalist's questions. Mark Rabkin, a director of engineering, submitted to a Q&A with
, and in it he did a reasonable job of explaining the company's security concerns and revealing that the operation has a legit staff of 300 people who manage spam.