Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg faces new challenges as his company prepares to file for its initial public offering this week.
If the tagline for the film "The Social Network" was "You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies," the sequel's might be "You don't get to 10 billion valuation without risking 800 million friends."
The buzz surrounding Facebook's pending IPO is almost deafening, as analysts speculate over the estimated $10 billion valuation. Meanwhile, users are wrapping their heads around the inevitable switch to Timeline. And the man in the middle of all of this is remaining mum about the whole thing.
Facebook has already been at odds with its disgruntled, yet loyal, users over privacy issues and continuous re-designs. Now, Zuckerberg and his team have to find a way to sustain a profit on the backs of these users.
CNN contributor Douglas Rushkoff points out, "there's another operating system churning away beneath all this high tech activity, and it's called corporate capitalism. If a company is big enough -- and that means simply holding enough money -- then sooner or later that money influences the rest of the company's activities."
As a matter of fact, Facebook's size is the reason it must go public. By federal rule, a company has to open its books once it reaches 500 investors - the company will hit that number early this year. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "if it were up to Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook would remain private."
Then there's the issue of how to keep a nimble, start-up work environment in the face of new pressure to produce and be profitable.
Peter Falvey, managing director of Morgan Keegan's technology banking group, speaking with the Boston Globe, worries about engineers "checking stock prices every 12 minutes."
"Once you're public, you have to make the numbers every 90 days till the end of time. What does that mean to a relatively new company?'' Falvey said.
The pressure to perform is on, as analyst ponder whether or not another dotcom bubble is about to burst. Of course, this is all speculation. We won't know the facts until Facebook's IPO actually hits.