Would it really matter if Facebook reaches 1 billion users by 2012?
Of course, for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, it would mean the world and then some.
Perhaps the most important thing for Zuckerberg would be that he was right about his prediction. When Facebook reached 500 million users last July, Zuckerberg said that it would be impossible for Facebook not to reach 1 billion users.
That’s roughly equivalent to 16 to 20 percent of the world’s population. But that is not to say that there really are 1 billion Facebook users with one Facebook account each or that all of the 1 billion accounts are actually actively being used in a meaningful way.
Still, what if each Facebook user was actually worth $10 each?
Facebook adds life or substitutes for the lack of it
What I’ve found so far is this dated page on Facebook Statistics where it says that the social networking site has “more than 500 million active users, 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day, average user has 130 friends, people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.”
If Facebook reaches 1 billion users, perhaps this would mean 500 million people would be using the social networking site daily — granting that the 2:1 ration of daily versus non-daily users holds.
It is still certainly an impressive statistic on the surface of it and it could mean a whole lot of things too. It could mean a substantial portion of the world’s population using the social networking site to update families and friends, play games, get a jobs, do business, gain fame or infamy, promote causes, or to cause a revolution. In short, people could actually find something similar to real life without ever having to take their hands off the keyboard or looking beyond the touchscreen.
Then again, it could also mean 500 million people becoming increasingly disengaged with the real world and could actually be withdrawing into a form of neurotic realm of delusions. I’ve met a pretty good number of cases of people who actually think they’re digital deities of one sort or another.
Facebook party poopers
There’s a party pooper in every crowd and when you’ve got a crowd of about a billion users, you can count on quite a number of them.
The term “Facebook Addiction Disorder” hasn’t been included in the lexicon of medical journals but perhaps it will be one of these days. And as with other sources of addiction, there could be some enterprising, crazy individuals who might just blame Facebook for destroying their lives and file suit — AND WIN!
I am not at all an expert on addiction suits so I can’t even hedge a bet on how such a thing would fare. However, I am reminded of the case of Frederic Reller. The man who was a smoker of 48 years blamed Philip Morris for his cancer. The suit alleged that the company didn’t warn him about the addictiveness and health risks of smoking.
Some corporations, entire government departments, and city governments have already banned or are about to ban Facebook use in their offices. Apparently, the bosses didn’t get the memo that Facebook use increases productivity.
In the Philippines where there are 24,501,880 Facebook users, three city governments have disallowed their employees from accessing Facebook accounts during office hours. City government employees in Manila, Quezon City, and Paranaque City were warned that those violating the no-Facebook-during-office-hours-policy would face a reprimand or warning for the first offense, suspension for the second and dismissal for the third offense.
The Philippine House of Representatives has likewise instituted an undeclared ban on Facebook use in its offices. In fact, Marikina City Congressman Miro Quimbo filed House Resolution 184 last year banning Facebook and Twitter in all government offices during office hours. Quimbo’s resolution was a reaction to the widely hailed embarrassing Tweet of presidential speech writer Carmen Mislang who updated her followers about the bad quality of wine at an official Vietnamese government ceremonial dinner.
What reaching a billion users looks like in dollars and cents
But putting all of this aside, I think Facebook reaching the 1 billion user mark finds economic meaning when you consider a report from the Wall Street Journal on Facebook’s anticipated IPO next year that says:
Goldman’s and Digital Sky Technologies’ investment reported early this year was at a share price that implied a $50 billion valuation for Facebook. The people familiar with the company’s recent finances said they thought its profit was growing at a fast-enough clip to justify a valuation of $100 billion or more when it goes public.
Considering this anticipated IPO valuation of a hundred billion dollars, one would suppose that those who now own shares of Facebook could in fact be owners of quite a large fortune.
I really have no idea exactly how the shares of Facebook are currently distributed but just for fun, let’s see how the supposed shares add up in dollars using the figures from this Business Insider.
Zuckerberg owns 24 percent, a valuation of 100 billion for all the shares could mean about $24 Billion. Facebook Co-Founder Dustin Muskovitz who reportedly owns 6 percent could be a billionaire six times over. Eduardo Saverin could be $ 5 Billion pesos richer. Former Facebook President Sean Parker could still get about $4 Billion.
Early employees Adam D’Angelo, Matt Cohler, Jeff Rothschild, Chris Hughes and Owen Van Natta who own less than 1 percent could be splitting $1 Billion.
So, boys and girls, what does this teach you? Well, all things considered, you ought to be good to your college dorm roomie — even if he doesn’t bathe for weeks and keeps looking at your girl.
Paul Farol is a Filipino writer and blogger currently based in Manila. He is currently a media practitioner and is involved in community development projects in Northern and Southern Luzon, Philippines.