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The big fall: Will Facebook vanish by 2020?

Last updated on: June 6, 2012 17:05 IST

The big fall: Will Facebook vanish by 2020?

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Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston

The world without Facebook sounds unbelievable, but after its sliding stocks a hedge fund manager has predicted that Facebook will "disappear" in five to eight years.

According to Eric Jackson, the founder of Ironfire Capital, "In five to eight years, they are going to disappear the way Yahoo has disappeared."

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Image: Facebook design chief Kate Aronowitz works at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters.

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"Yahoo is still making money. It's still profitable, still has 13,000 employees working for it. But it's 10 per cent of the value that it was at the height of 2000. For all intents and purposes, it's disappeared."

Jackson noted that so far there have been three generations of Internet companies. Yahoo, a Web portal, is a great example as an online pioneer.

Facebook then swept in as the second generation with the wave of social media. The third generation is all about mobile, he said.

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Image: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Priscilla Chan walk near Fuxing Road in Shanghai.
Photographs: Reuters.
Tags: Jackson

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While this assertion raised a ruckus online this week, other industry analysts wouldn't be shocked if the prediction comes true.

Facebook's February IPO filing revealed that the company had more than 425 million monthly active mobile users during December 2011, or about half of its worldwide user base, analysts said.

But while that number might be impressive, those users aren't making Facebook any money at this point.

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Image: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures during his keynote address at the Facebook f8 Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters.
Tags: IPO

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Facebook has moved to address concerns that it isn't doing enough to satisfy mobile users, buying Instagram for $1 billion, and hiring the development team behind the Lightbox Android photo app.

Jackson thinks the social network's mobile woes will continue despite those moves.

"Facebook can buy a bunch of mobile companies, but (it is) still a big, fat website, and that's different from a mobile app," he said.

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Image: Facebook Wall.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters.

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One of the problems for Facebook is that the company has not been able to monetize its burgeoning mobile base.

Company executives even raised the issue in its pre-IPO filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this spring. And that could really hold the company back and give others a chance to flourish in its place.

"Look at how Google has struggled moving into social, and I think Facebook is going to have the same kind of challenges moving into mobile," said Jackson.

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Image: An employee works on a computer at the new headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters.

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The big fall: Will Facebook vanish by 2020?

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The prediction of Facebook's demise comes just weeks after the social network's troubled IPO.

Although many financial analysts had expected the company's stock to rocket from the initial offering price of $38 a share to $50 or even $90 a share, the stock never popped.

At the market close on Tuesday, Facebook's stock price was down to $25.87, well below its initial offering.



Image: A sketch of Mark Zuckerberg is seen on a wall at the new headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters.
Tags: Facebook , IPO

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