In case you have a deaf ear to the world’s biggest social networking company, on Friday, May 18, 2012, Facebook had it’s initial public offering on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Starting at a comfortable $38, the stock took an early tumble by the end of the day as a deluge of buyers followed the major investment companies into the stock. Whether Facebook was worth $100 billion or not didn’t matter – this was as sexy as Wall Street could come outside of Armani suits and Ferragamo shoes. A web company, many believed, that could rival Google as the greatest web IPO of all time.
Naturally there seems to be a gross miscalculation in both value and necessity. The Nasdaq Exchange had “auction software problems” early on, delaying the debut, preventing a fair playing field on trading, and confused the hell out of every clueless investor. Furthermore, the IPO was supposed to be supplemented by Wall Street’s largest companies/crooks: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America had projected a high revenue growth which would have led to massive investment from both firms. By the end of the day they had all lowered their expectations. The stock began to plummet. Regulators have stepped in and brought legal action to Morgan Stanley for possibly deceiving their customers. By tuesday the stock lost 18% of its issuing price, dropping to $31.
On Friday, Jeffrey Zeldman posted this inspiring article speaking to his recently redesigned personal site, which sports a hefty 24px body font. He speaks about the ever changing landscape of web design, and as it’s his personal site, he wanted it to be extremely legible.
This redesign is a response to ebooks, to web type, to mobile, and to wonderful applications like Instapaper and Readability that address the problem of most websites’ pointlessly cluttered interfaces and content-hostile text layouts by actually removing the designer from the equation. (That’s not all these apps do, but it’s one benefit of using them, and it indicates how pathetic much of our web design is when our visitors increasingly turn to third party applications simply to read our sites’ content. It also suggests that those who don’t design for readers might soon not be designing for anyone.)
The piece resonated with me because it was similar to my thoughts when I redesigned The Fox Is Black back in April. The majority of guests that read The Fox Is Black have at least a 1280 x 800 monitor, so having larger images and a larger font makes sense. It’s giving you the reader an easier way to ingest content. This isn’t a revolutionary way of thinking, but I’m not sure it’s as considered as it should be these days, when even the New York Times devotes almost 75% of their to ads. We can only hope that there’s a coming shift in how people read on the web.
I’ll definitely give it to the Google employees for coming up with some really fun ideas (though I still don’t care for the mothership). My buddy Matt this morning sent me this new game they came up with called Cube, a game about Google Maps. They’ve taken all the mapping data they have and have turned it into one of those giant marble games, where instead of getting the marble into the hole you get it to the waypoint. The physics are pretty fun, and be warned, you may lose some of your work day playing this.
So if you’re an Instagram user, you’ve been picking up on all of the cues about how important you are, how valuable you are to Instagram. Then along comes Facebook, the great alien presence that just hovers over our cities, year after year, as we wait and fear. You turn on the television and there it is, right above the Empire State Building, humming. And now a hole has opened up on its base and it has dumped a billion dollars into a public square — which turned out to not be public, but actually belongs to a few suddenly-very-rich dudes. You can’t blame users for becoming hooting primates when a giant spaceship dumps a billion dollars out of its money hole. It’s like the monolith in the movie 2001 appeared filled with candy and a sign on the front that said “NO CANDY FOR YOU.”
My immediate concern now is what Facebook is going to do with my photos and all the metadata attached to it. My guess is that they’ll do what they do and sell advertising with it, which is gross to think about. I don’t really fault the Instagram team for making this move, I mean, would you turn down $1 billion? No, you wouldn’t. Here’s hoping that Facebook’s greasy fingerprints remain off of Instagram and the team can continue to develop one of the best apps ever created. Only time will tell where things go from here.
Remember this day. 551-day-old Instagram is worth $1 billion. 116-year-old New York Times Co.: $967 million.
It’s odd to think that we see an app like Instagram to be valued more than a classic institution. I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong either, it just means that we our idea of what’s importance has changed. Sharing a moment with our friends is perhaps more worth our time than reading an article about economics or the arts.