In just four years, Facebook has achieved something Google has spent its life as a public company attempting
If you are like me, you probably already feel like you have already experienced a heady overdose of just how FUCKING AMAZING Facebook’s earnings were.
Perhaps the best Tweet:
As we’d reported earlier, the generally moody period in first quarter earnings gave fuel to the fire that exits were going to remain absolute shit for the $90 billion in private money sitting in pre-IPO unicorns. Investors were even pissy with Alphabet and Apple, FFS.
Twitter CFO Anthony Noto even hinted the day before Facebook's earnings that other ad-based digital media companies would be reporting lackluster earnings too. Awwwwwwww. #Bless his Twitter heart.
And yet, the news out of Facebook was so phenomenal that reporters and onlookers each had a different stat they seized on in the frenzy of the call:
Facebook's net income tripled year over year...
facebook net income tripled year over year.— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) April 27, 2016
...despite being over 3x larger, FB continues to grow domestic users...
In 2009 only half of Facebook's MAUs were on it every day. Mobile has taken that to 2/3, at much greater scale
In 2009 only half of Facebook's MAUs were on it every day. Mobile has taken that to 2/3, at much greater scale. pic.twitter.com/9Ef55xjgPt— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) April 27, 2016
Facebook = 1.65 billion Monthly Active Users, 1.09 [billion] daily active users. These numbers are insane. Much respect.
Facebook = 1.65 billion Monthly Active Users, 1.09 Daily Active Users. These numbers are insane. Much respect.— Dennis Crowley (@dens) April 27, 2016
Facebook reported net income of $1.51 billion, more than double its earnings from the same period a year earlier
Facebook reported net income of $1.51 billion, more than double its earnings from the same period a year earlier https://t.co/OUz5iqRMQU— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) April 27, 2016
Users average 50 minutes per day on Facebook, Messeger, and Instagram
Peter Kafka added his usual self-aware post script:
You know, when we all (officially) work for Facebook, we will have to be this enthusiastic about their earnings even if we don't mean it.— Peter Kafka (@pkafka) April 27, 2016
But Benedict Evans may have had the most meaningful point about just how much Facebook’s fortunes have shifted to mobile:
“Hey Facebook, you’ve IPOed without a mobile story.— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) April 27, 2016
Oh right, there it is“ pic.twitter.com/MAGWlzss5g
At this stage desktop is really Facebook's legacy business— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) April 27, 2016
The move to mobile took away Facebook's monopoly of social, but gave it much greater scale, engagement & revenue potential.— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) April 27, 2016
The second of those three Tweets in particular made me pause. Of all the astounding things we’ve seen from Facebook as a company, perhaps the most astounding is how rapidly it made the astounding success that lead it to an IPO into a "legacy business." Facebook may have been late to “mobile” but it was early-- and aggressive-- to messaging which now looks to be larger than social media.
Indeed, Snapchat is the only large messaging platform Facebook doesn’t own. And it tried to overpay for Snapchat. Still not content, Facebook has used Instagram, Facebook Live, and even the humble ol' Poke to take on Snapchat-- a service that many feel is so orthogonal to Facebook it must be immune. I wouldn't count on it.
The craziest bit is that Facebook did it through a combination of building and buying. I don’t know which success is more surprising. Both have felled even the best major Internet companies in the past. (Cough, cough Google+...)
But here’s my single point that -- astoundingly -- may not have been made in the panoply of hot takes on a hot company’s hot quarter: Facebook has finally achieved something that even Google did not.
For almost all of Google’s life as a public company, it has been angsty about how to replace its primary cash cow of search. It has spent billions in moonshots and acquisitions and homegrown projects to change that. And one of the biggest concerns for Google is still the shift from desktop to mobile-- and how un-dominant search is on mobile.
Google is clearly not on the ropes. But for a while they were the pattern-setter. They changed the game on when to go public. They changed the game on how you think about paying for acquisitions from a position of strength, with YouTube, and about keeping that division separate. They had the balls to pioneeer the dual classes of stock, paired with a refusal to give quarterly guidance.
But Facebook has bested them. Its young, wunderkind founder always stayed CEO. The "grown up" was the number two, not the CEO. The companies Facebook acquired and kept independent also retained their founders. And those companies rapidly moved Facebook into a different place as a company-- in a matter of years. And now, Facebook has in some four years as a public company replaced its primary business with something larger.
It was from this ultimate position of strength-- not the IPO-- that Facebook introduced a new dual share structure yesterday.
Who could honestly complain this founder shouldn’t have more control?