Facebook IPO: What happens when the dust settles?

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So it’s official. The starting figure for Facebook shares today is… US$38. It’s higher than expected (although not by much) and if many have their way it’s just the beginning.

Not unsurprisingly there have been naysayers as you’d expect (perhaps more that you’d expect) but when you have a +US$100-billion IPO (the last one was Visa) mixed with additional recent large investment rounds and economic uncertainty seemingly looming around every corner, people invariably become polarised.

So what happens when the bell closes today? Well for you and me, likely not a lot. The site won’t change, it’ll still be called Facebook and you will still check it about twice a day. Even the guys at Facebook are taking a “business as usual attitude”. They have booked a Hackathon and reckon they’re coding the next big thing. That’s the interesting part. Facebook’s not done yet. It’s likely that it hasn’t even started.

Today is the start of a very different Facebook. Zuckerburg and co. are no laurel-resters. They’re bold, scrappy and not afraid of change. That’s a pretty powerful combination. Especially when you have a wad of cash in your back pocket and a vision to change the way we, as individuals, share.

If you look at Google before their IPO and what they look like today you start to see the potential for Facebook. Whether the bell closes at US$50 or US$150 it’s going to be a lot of money, which means options, opportunities and most likely a few staff retention issues.

Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess. China? It won’t be easy, but then things that are worth doing rarely are. With great investment comes great responsibility… and accountability, not only to shareholders but people like the FTC. Options and challenges are both clearly on the horizon (or already here).

It’s clear that mobile is a key area of concern with many when it comes to Facebook as eyeballs shift and real estate is less. Yet it’s also Facebook’s biggest area of opportunity, as more and more is shared, patterns emerge, behaviours merge and new data is created.

Mobile is richer than ever, not only leveraging location but time and purchasing through new frictionless methods. That’s gold for anyone looking to make money from it.

Credits is a key area for Facebook and many were shocked when it was revealed that credits currently make up around 18% of its revenue — they could just be about to become an incredibly important part of Facebook’s (and your) future. Get ready for them to move beyond social gaming and to do so quickly.

If Facebook stays true to its users (and itself), as it has done previously (albeit with some noticeable privacy hiccups), the two steps forward and one step back approach should see it move forward at a pace that whilst some will undoubtedly say is too fast, most will likely not notice. One thing is certain, between potential regulation, ROI and privacy — it’s going to be an interesting journey. Strap yourself in.

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