GM Has Facebook Envy -- and a Lot of Nerve

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's already starting. General Motors ( GM) decides to pull advertising from Facebook ( FB) and the bears begin to question both the social media monster's effectiveness and ability to grow and sustain revenues. It must be flattering for Mark Zuckerberg to already have a whole peanut gallery full of bears before his company's ticker even crosses CNBC for the first time.

As I explained last week on TheStreet, it looks as if Zuckerberg is cut out of the mold of ( AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos. Both men see the future before it takes place; in fact they vision and enact it. For goodness sake, Bezos invented e-commerce and Zuck created social media, this thing we all seem to take for granted now. We're just along for the ride, yet somehow every Tom, Dick and Harry makes an arrogant call for "shotgun" in an all-out sprint for the front seat.

It's typical of our society: Order something from Amazon, post a picture of your kid picking his nose on Facebook, send a text on your iPhone. The platforms, ecosystems and devices that drive these seemingly mundane activities did not just fall from the sky. They're not birthrights. Somebody smarter than you and me created the systems that facilitate our everyday lives. Thanks to these visionaries we subsist in profoundly different -- and better -- ways than we did five or 10 years ago.

Despite this, massive factions of society, particularly within the investor community, stand ready to discount, discredit and disparage the hands that fed and continue to feed them. For one reason or another, whole hosts of us have this demented need to take down the man at the top. I really believe it goes back to what Howard Lindzon called "entrepreneur envy" when he shot down the absurd notion of an Internet/tech/new media bubble.

GM''s Facebook Envy Ten million dollars is a spit in the bucket to GM. It's also a spit in the bucket to Facebook, a company that produced $3.7 billion in revenue last year without "even trying," as TheStreet's Eric Jackson nicely stated.

Frankly, I think this is simply GM's old-guard way of lashing out. I am sure the suits at GM -- the same "businessmen" who required a government lifeline -- do not think Facebook "deserves" a valuation that will almost certainly be much higher than GM's right out of the gate. As Marek Fuchs says, They just don't get it!

Also on TheStreet, contributor Jonathan Heller wondered aloud about the Facebook IPO in clear-headed and ultimately indifferent fashion: The bottom line is that I don't understand the math. I don't see how Facebook is worth $100 billion ... The common thread with all the IPOs I've mentioned is that each of the companies offers useful products or services, but there's a disconnect between their utility and the valuation of these companies. That's not uncommon. IPOs often generate investor interest that drives prices far higher than the company's true value. Sometimes it takes a while for the dust to settle.

I would ask Heller to throw conventional ideas about valuation out of the window. You're bound to drive yourself certifiably insane if you don't.

First of all, as he acknowledged, this is a multi-billion dollar company. And, as Fuchs nicely described in his video, social media is in its infancy. Mobile advertising has barely begun to bloom. If GM wants to hop off of the bandwagon already, so be it.

The folks who are hysterical about this development do not get two key things. First, advertising comes and goes from businesses that rely on it every day of the week. You probably have clients come and go consistently in your business. It's not uncommon. Heck, when I worked in radio I was personally responsible for blowing six-figure accounts off of the stations I yacked on with the most innocent slight of tongue.

Second, Facebook does not have to be "effective" as an outlet for advertising in the traditional sense of the word. Chances are GM dealers are not going to have many customers walk into a showroom, sign on the line that is dotted for a new truck and note that Facebook referred me. It does not work that way. Facebook will not directly sell a big ticket item like a car for you. If you need them to, it's doubly obvious that you just do not get it.

Ford ( F) spokesmen Scott Monty honked the horn square on the steering wheel when he said: You just can't buy your way into Facebook. You need to have a credible presence and be doing innovative things.

Individuals build their brands on Facebook every minute of every day. Your life could suck as bad as a Chevy, but nobody would know it. You use Facebook to craft the identity you wish reflected the real you. You're not selling anything. Your putting together the portrait you want to put in your "friends'" minds' eye when they think of you.

If GM really thought Facebook is not effective, it would have saved a few million dollars more and pulled its page from the Web site. It did not do that, though. GM needs Facebook more than Facebook needs GM. The stodgy old company simply made a feeble attempt to prove a completely insignificant point. Facebook is overvalued. It's too big for its britches. Zuckerberg should start wearing a tie again. Whatever.
At the time of publication, the author did not hold a position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article, though positions can change at any time.