I realize today's Nasdaq investors should only be so lucky to have had a Yahoo-like first day of trading. But for insiders -- and those who played Facebook "stock" on alternative markets such as New York City-based SecondMarket -- should find Yahoo!'s wild ride familiar. A SecondMarket representative declined to comment on the specifics of the value of Facebook before it went public. Instead I was referred to an infographic that breaks out the history of Facebook on private exchanges. This chart is simply a must-see for anybody anywhere close to this operation. There is where you will see the same Yahoo-like blind rush to scale: The "like" button comes online February 2009, Digital Sky Technologies bets $200 million. No-name companies such as ShareGrove, Hot Potato, Drop.IO are all gobbled up. Heck, there was even a 5-1 stock "split" back in October 2010. (Whatever that means. Who did the splitting?) For these jaundiced eyes, the Yahoo Groundhogs Day vibe in this chart is clear. We are already seeing Yahoo-like managers, products and company strategies coming and going at Facebook. Remember how bright people such as the dude from PayPal ( EBAY), Scott Thompson, ran the show? Microsoft ( MSFT) trying a merger back in 2008? And Carol Bartz, who I always thought did a heck of a job at Autodesk ( ADSK), took her turn at the helm -- which of course, ended poorly. "I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's chairman of the board," Bartz typed on her iPad in a widely quoted, leaked memo in October. The same, and maybe the same down the road
The fact is, the operations share the same, tired Web story. Both are launching a fabulous functionality that kicks the nitty-gritty business details down the road. Both try to scale in a world that values their core product -- information -- less and less each second. And both must operate in a ruthlessly competitive global market with nano-inch-high barriers to entry. And very tellingly, they share similar income statements: About $4 billion in annual earnings, $1 billion in annual net income. Go look. It's "holy cow" stuff.