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More Debate About Facebook's Future

Kim Hart

A panel of local investors and entrepreneurs held a panel discussion this morning in Tysons Corner to discuss Web 2.0 trends. The conversation addressed questions like "how long will Google's dominance last?" to "what will be the next Google?"

But, in my view, the most interesting part of the event focused on another company: Facebook, who's name is becoming almost (but not quite) as ubiquitous as Google's.

Members of the panel went back and forth on the sustainable value of the social network--and whether it has received too much attention over the past year or so. Don Rainey, an investor with Grotech Ventures, said he thinks Facebook applications are over-hyped. Laurence Hooper, co-founder and CEO of Loladex, a recently launched Facebook application that helps people find local businesses, was quick to disagree. In fact, he thinks the very idea that Facebook fatigue is setting in is over-hyped. Scott Frederick, an investor with Valhalla Partners, said he thinks Facebook itself may not be able to live up to the valuation it received after Microsoft's investment and that it could end up hurting developers wanting to work with Facebook.

Frederick also wondered if Facebook has become a commodity. He drew a parallel to Skype's free Internet-based phone calls. People find the service useful, but Skype's parent company, Ebay, has had a hard time making it profitable. "Microsoft paid such a high value" for a small stake in the company..."that it might not play out as planned," he said.

Hooper pointed out the increasing influence of social networks on the Web, but added that Facebook "is certainly at a point where it needs to prove itself," Hooper said.

Jay Rappaport, president and COO of Clearspring, the widget-making company, said he thinks Google's OpenSocial initiative has received more buzz than it's worth. He said he likes the goal behind the alliance of social networks, but "standardization will take time." (Facebook is not taking part in the OpenSocial movement).

The moderator of the panel, Paul Sherman of Potomac Tech Wire, asked the audience about their social network preferences. About 75 percent of the audience--all professionals-- indicated they are a member of LinkedIn, while about 50 percent raised their hands for Facebook and less than 25 percent indicated they belong to MySpace.

Then a more meaningful question was asked: How many people log onto LinkedIn everyday? Only a dozen or so hands went up.

By Kim Hart  |  April 16, 2008; 12:43 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
Previous: Ted Leonsis' Take on Facebook | Next: New for Nintendo: Air traffic controllers & SAT prep

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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Am I the only one who can't wrap the mind around Linkedin and Facebook?

I like MySpace better. That's just me.

Posted by: Gerp | April 16, 2008 4:49 PM

I'm a member of Facebook (active within the month) and MySpace (tend to like that one a little better at the moment since I've been on it longer) because I've found that different people I know are on one and not the other. A small number (very small) are on both.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | April 16, 2008 4:57 PM

To me, Facebook is becoming more of a service that is needed, while Myspace is still a playground that is loved.

Myspace is an audio/visual barrage, while Facebook (unfortunately is selling out to application developers to create annoying applications that make a users profile look like a poor rendering of a myspace page) is still less cluttered than Myspace. Facebook seems to have more of a professional image and purpose than Myspace.

Facebook feels safer, and after getting hacked and used as a spam springboard, I will argue that Facebook still is safer than Myspace. The numerous warnings and safety measures now a part of Myspace exploration make me feel apprehensive, and it could turn away newcomers.

I love and need Facebook. To me, Myspace represents; the evil twin brother, proceed with caution, this place is unsafe, kind of vibe.

I'm 23, and after graduating college all of my friends from home and school live all over the world. Social networking services are needed, but "free" will have to be part of every internet business plan.

Now if we can just solve the bandwidth problem...

Posted by: JesseW | April 17, 2008 4:50 PM

Was this event open to the public? If so, who sponsored it and was there a website with event details?

Posted by: Ken | April 24, 2008 1:47 AM

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