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Every thing i know about Facebook. And my prophecy.

I just bought my first thing on Instagram.

I love Instagram. Nothing on the Internet gives me more pleasure. i subscribe to Instagram feeds that send me pictures of wild animals and pretty places. I’ll never see the animals in the wild. I’ll never visit all the places.

 
 

I digress.

I used to be a publisher. To publish means to put things out publicly for the world to see and read.

I published magazines and trade shows. I put information and products inn the magazines and exhibited them at the trade shows . It was called editorial. The idea was to attract companies to use my magazines and trade shows to advertise their wares — for which they paid me.

Facebook’s Instagram is a publisher except they’re much luckier than I was. People give them information (photos and videos) for free which they make public. Facebook invites people and companies to pay them money for the privilege of showing their products for sale and maybe selling some. Like the one I bought.

Facebook is a magazine publisher, like I was, except they don’t spend money on writers, ink, paper orpostage. They use the Internet, not the Post office.

It’s actually quite brilliant and extraordinarily profitable. This year Facebook will have revenues this year of over $100 billion. That’s a figure I never dreamed of — even in my wildest dreams.

Our appeal was the articles, photos, speeches and information we put out. I wrote some. And I paid a small army of reporters to write the bulk. I invented rules about what we would publish and what we wouldn’t publish. I tried to be fair, interesting, entertaining and useful. It wasn’t easy. If I didn’t get it right, no one would advertise and no one would exhibit at our shows. And Gerry, my partner, and I would starve.

Facebook and Instagram gets their editorial for free. Lucky Zuck. Like us, they get paid for advertising. Everyone who advertised with us wanted to sell gadgetry — from phones to computers for phoning. No one wanted to pay us for political stuff, sadly.

Only a few thousand techies received our stuff, or even knew about us. Zuck has billions. Most are not techies. Lucky Zuck.

He’s got so many he attracts weirdos — from anti-vaxxers to Russian interferes.

Some pay him. Some don’t. It’s often not easy to tell with Facebook which is advertising and which is editorial. It was with us. They looked different.

The bottom line in both our cases is the same. We wanted more of the paid stuff. And we would jump through hoops to get more.

If I were Zuck, I’d want Facebook to be as enticing as all get out. That way I could buy a corporate jet, a private yacht, a palace in the mountains and a private island in Hawaii — none of which I own. Shucks.

To make it as enticing as all get out, if I were Zuck, I’d encourage the weirdos, because their madnesses would get more attention and hence more readers, and more readers get me more advertising money.

It’s a pity that the weirdos attract weirdos, like the politicians who make their career by saying that Zuck’s stuff is messing up teenagers and causing them to suicide.

Meantime, If I were Zuck, I’d make a perfunctory attempt to try to fend some of the bad reputation threats by censoring the most egregious stuff — if I can find it. It’s not easy.

Politicians, who don’t like the egregious stuff, are not the real threat to Facebook’s business. It’s technology and the creativity of the human race. Young people are fleeing Facebook for TikTok, Snapchat and others. Old people like Harry Newton won’t spend his time on Facebook, but, fortunately, will spend it on Instagram — until something with cuter wild animals and more beautiful places comes along.

Older people are a curse, however. They don’t want to buy pants that make their butt handsome or another pair of shoes make from eucalyptus trees. They have enough shoes and enough pants to last their lifetime. My droopy butt can’t be repaired with a pair of stretchy $79 jeans.

Specialty services are being born every day that will chip away at Facebook’s business. And Facebook, will, in desperation, seek new things to entice, like the Metaverse.

Compared to the business we ran, Facebook is in heaven. it knows oodles and oodles about its readers — from the demographics the readers give them, to the material they write about themselves that’s all there for Facebook’s AI machine to read and digest.

Facebook can slice and dice its readers in ways we never dreamed about. We knew where our readers lived and sometimes the title of their job, but that was it. Facebook/Instagram will even help design very targeted ads. In the old days you needed an advertising agency, who typically got paid 15% of what you spent. No more.

+ “Easily turn your Instagram posts into ads. Boost any post to turn it into an ad. Just decide where to send users, who should see it and how much to spend.” Click on the Facebook or Instagram bouncing ball here.

I own a few Facebook shares. I don’t like owning shares that are pummeled so much and so often by bad ink and obstreperous politicians — Even my favorite technology ETF, namely Vanguard’s VGT, has done better than Facebook over the last two years. That’s VGF in the orange.

I wish I had thought of how deliciously brilliant Facebook is when I was a squib paper and ink publisher in a loft in Chelsea, New York.

But who knew?

Today Facebook’s P/E ratio is a remarkably low 24. For many of my friends it’s their best advertising medium.

The Feds will never figure a way of reigning in Facebook. It’s far too complex. Zuck will reign in some of the worst stuff. But the worst stuff  teeny tiny in ad revenues.

Eventually Facebook’s stock should take off. It may well be the big bargain of all the companies in FANNG.

The good news

It was Eleanor’s eight birthday on the weekend. Here she and Peter are reading the card which Susan and I sent her.

On Facetime, I also got to find out the present Susan and I sent. It was really thoughtful.

Both kids have just had their first vaccine shot.

That’s it for today. My overworked, hurting shoulder benefited from this morning’s gentle tennis.

Keep moving is still the only mantra that works. — Harry Newton