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I’ve been playing with Vox… the new social network-enabled blogging platform recently launched by Six Apart (also owners of TypePad, Moveable Type, and LiveJournal). Although I don’t do new product/service reviews, I will say that Vox is very well done and the new service could prove itself to be a vortex within a scattered social media marketplace.
I’m probably also one of the very few that felt Facebook made the absolute right decision when they opened up its social network. Their timing, in my opinion, could not have been better, particularly in terms of competitive positioning against MySpace. With the move, there is no doubt in my mind that Facebook has placed itself on a new growth curve… one that will benefit from the churn of members from competitors as well as newbies to social networks.
Having said that, let me qualify my thesis a bit. As I wrote in my last post, Facebook has a low “narcissism” ratio, relative to more “Hollywood-oriented” social media services… and it’s very important that it stay that way as it pulls back its velvet rope to the masses. But doing so puts Facebook on the same evolutionary path with Six Apart… at the conceptual level, both companies are ultimately aimed at becoming personalized portal platforms (what I’ve previously referred to as “consoles for consumer control“).
As such, it is increasingly likely that Facebook and Six Apart, given their new initiatives, will be competing for the same customers (both users and advertisers). And if I were running one or the other, I would immediately run a strategic/financial analysis to look at the costs and benefits of a merger. But I would do so with one very specific objective in mind… to see if a combination could flip into an IPO.
An IPO of a merged Six Apart/Facebook would represent the market’s first pure-play social media listing. Judging from the view of Wall Street analysts, and the stock market reaction, to previous deals like Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of MySpace and Google’s pending acquisition of YouTube (in addition to the street’s punishing of Viacom and Yahoo! for being too complacent), it’s pretty safe to say that a qualified pure-play social media IPO could easily become the next Nasdaq darling.
Of course, the combined company would need to be profitable (which I’m guessing they would be) and it would have to demonstrate meaningful revenues… I would guess the combined entity is currently generating over $150 million annually. That said, I would only go IPO if the underwriters priced the company at a bubble-like valuation of at least $2 billion. ;-)