Facebookis emerging as the most important company in Silicon Valley, and I predict it will soon become the most valuable company in the world.
It's amazing what you can do with 1.2 billion eyeballs. Here's what's going on.
Warner Bros. announced this week that it will offer movies to rent movies on Facebook. The first title available is "Batman: The Dark Knight." (Netflix's stock dropped almost 6 percent after the announcement.)
Starting Tuesday, users (in the United States only) can use Facebook Credits, the social network's virtual currency, to rent and watch the movie right there on Facebook.
Once you've paid for your movie, you have 48 hours to watch it. You can play it full screen, pause, resume and generally do all the things you can do with a Netflix or iTunes download.
I'm already seeing people say things like "Why would I want to watch movies on Facebook? The answer is: "Why wouldn't you?"
The reason grocery stores crowd the checkstands with magazines, lip balm, candy bars and other items is because people love an impulse buy.
If Facebook's got both your attention and your credit card, you'll hear about products on Facebook and can buy them with one click.
Give Facebook Some Credits
The cost of renting Batman is $3, or 30 Facebook Credits. Facebook Credits, which emerged from the beta testing phase only in January, is available in 15 currencies, one of which is the Euro (spanning many countries).
Until the Warner Bros. announcement, Facebook Credits was mostly about games -- people haven't taken Credits seriously because it's been all about FarmVille, Happy Aquarium and Bejeweled Blitz. These products are the humble beginnings of an online payment system that could rise to eat the Internet.
The conventional wisdom says Facebook Credits will evolve into a PayPal-like micropayment system usable by any Facebook application. It could also expand into a universal debit card system usable in actual brick-and-mortar stores, and other online sites.
Resistance is Futile
Whether you love Facebook or not, the reality is that businesses will gravitate to Facebook because that's where the customer are.
Facebook now has 600 million active users, 200 million of whom use Facebook every day for an average of nearly an hour a day. There is nothing else in the world like this in the "attention economy."
Marketers are gradually realizing that people ignore their advertising because they're too busy obsessing over their Facebook Walls. Getting marketing messages on those Walls is a simple matter of getting people to click a "Like" button.
If you've got a business, you've got to have a fan page. If you've got a fan page, you're going to have dozens, hundreds, thousands or millions of fans.
Once people have "Liked" your company or product on Facebook, or with the "Like" button on any web site, anything you post there will be delivered to their Walls.
If you post a link to a product or service that can be purchased and "consumed" right there in Facebook using Facebook Monopoly money, people are going to do it. Why wouldn't they?
This whole state of affairs is perfectly irresistible to everybody -- to companies, to users and certainly to Facebook, which will take 30 cents for every dollar charged!
Today, Facebook Credits is about games. Tomorrow, movies. But the day after tomorrow, I predict Facebook will become Amazon.comon steroids, selling everything that can be purchased online. Why wouldn't they?
Facebook could clobber even Apple in many categories of online media, not only because it has way more users, but also because companies can charge whatever they want and control the user messaging -- as long as they give Zuckerberg his 30 percent.
If you connect all the dots, it's clear to see that Facebook can have Amazon.com's breadth of products with Apple's 30% cut and the unrivaled attention of hundreds of millions of people. Facebook is going to make a LOT of money.
Facebook is currently valued at $75 billion, and many are saying that's too high. I say it's just the beginning. I think it's possible that Facebook's valuation could double within a year, and double again within another year. And that would put Mark Zuckerberg's personal net worth well into the 12 digits.
So here's my concrete prediction: I believe Facebook will become the world's most valuable company by March, 2013 and, within a year after that, Zuckerberg will become the richest man in history worth over $100 billion -- "Like" it or not.