Just before we start to shut down for the holiday season (here in Israel we started "early," as Hanukka started last week...) want to admit where I was wrong--looks like Facebook is well on the road to becoming a serious cash machine, like it's cousin Google.
According to recent reports, besides passing 350 million active users, Facebook is on a run rate to hit $1 billion in annual revenues. In 2009 it is reported they already will exceed $500 million. While we [at present] do not have info on how much Facebook is spending, should be safe to assume less that their revenues, and they are starting to not only be profitable but generating some serious cash reserves.
I need to admit that I was wrong. I did not think Zuckerberg and team had it together to translate massive usage into business, but I guess the usage was just to massive to get it completely wrong...slowly but surely they are monetizing that user base (again, little visibility into numbers, but seems to be from display ads, virtual goods, and very focused ad campaigns).
I still do not think Facebook is any kind of new operating system, and if a better FB comes along they could be left in the dust. While my 11 year old is a FB addict, my almost 9 year old doesn't use it at all [yet]. If a better FB comes along to capture her attention, FB is threatened. They have no intellectual property, no defensible technology advantage. "Just" massive momentum, which may make them too big too fall. But then again, where is Myspace today? My 11 year has never even tried it.
Bringing this back to our home court, the venture community in Israel, we need to think more about what it means to scale up, and monetizing success. Facebook, I still maintain, is the exception to the rule. Now lets see if Twitter can start to generate Google-like revenues....