What's Facebook Got Up Its Sleeve?
There's been plenty of speculation about what the social networker has up its sleeve. Facebook often saves its big announcements for the company's F8 developer conference, so this marks a departure from the company's usual strategy.
I suspect CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team, now that Facebook is public, are trying to one up the tech industry, which is perfectly normal. It happens all the time. Companies try to schedule events around Apple (AAPL) product launches to gain exposure. It works, but not to the degree many would like. Facebook is different because it's a product more than 1 billion people use , so there's going to be a considerable attention focused on this event.
On to the event itself. What will Facebook announce? Zuckerberg has already talked about building a social search engine. "Search is interesting," he said at a tech conference back in September. "We do on
I think a search engine is one of the more likely choices for a product announcement, as Facebook looks to take some market share away from search leader Google (GOOG) . Topeka Capital Markets analyst Victor Anthony believes a search product could be exceedingly beneficial for shareholders. "We have also stated previously that we believe a social search engine would be worth $7-$8 per share to Facebook. At full ramp, we see Facebook generating close to $5 billion in annual revenues and $2.5 billion in EBITDA from a search engine," Anthony wrote in a recent research note. The analyst rates Facebook "buy" with a $36 price target.
There's also speculation that Facebook could announce a deal with Netflix (NFLX) to carry streaming video services. President Obama recently signed an amended version of the Video Privacy Protection Act, allowing services such as Netflix to share their customers' digital viewing activity on sites like Twitter and Facebook with prior consent. I'd say the Netflix deal is fairly likely, but not as likely as search.
Facebook may also announce an expansion of its Gifts program, as it continues to monetize its mobile platform and generate additional revenue. Topeka Capital's Anthony believes the social networker could add as much as $800 million in additional revenue from a broader e-commerce platform, as Gifts is expanded. I'd put the likelihood of this announcement at less than 30%, as Facebook already had a press conference to unveil Gifts in 2012.