When it comes to keeping up with what's in, in social networking technology, I am lost. I rely on my nannies to know what is hot. I call it the tech nanny-dar. If the nannies say it is in, it is in.
It started two years ago I noticed that the two nannies we took to Majorca, both in their early 20's couldn't wait to log onto MySpace in their free time. Meanwhile for the younger generation we took this year, it was all "Facebook, Facebook, Facebook!" Clearly MySpace was passé. Stuff for porn-stars and musicians, and, like, really ancient people, like, if you're older than 26 and all.
I tried to remember the first time I had heard about Facebook. Then, I remembered, it was Peter Fenton, one of our VCs. He mentioned it to Nathalie and me back in 2004 over dinner. He was all excited and hyped up on it, probably because Accel had just signed on as their lead investors. At the time, I drew a complete blank. I just didn't get it. I thought it was a passing fad, whose hotness was due to an average user profile closer to Girls Gone Wild rather than your typical IT software developer. The very fact that I thought software plumbing was more exciting than Mindy from Chico State, whose interests are "beer pong, beer pong and weed", is probably why I didn't get it in the first place...
Recently Facebook is trying to position itself in the application infrastructure space, closer to my middleware background. According to the founder of Facebook, it is not "just" a social networking site anymore, it is this whole, uh, big, uh, unified, new API thing. You know it's a platform for the future, the web operating system, and whatnot. Hmmmh, where have I heard that before... First of all I always think "uh oh!" when companies start claiming they are no longer "just" what they actually are. That just tells me they do not know what they are anymore. Second, I have seen enough of these to not get too excited quite yet .
Maybe the kid has an API for modern applications, maybe... I haven't looked at it. Remember, I don't really give a shit. But Billionaire Marc has. From Marc Andreessen's blog, it appears that the APIs from Facebook have gone from "hip" to "passe" in a matter of 4 weeks. Obviously the internet's middleware layer would have to show more stability than that for it to be considered "the internet's middleware layer"... no?
Whether Facebook's APIs are indeed real or not is somewhat irrelevant. Facebook is a phenomenon, a phenomenom that has already attracted a Billion dollar offer from the likes of Yahoo! The 20 something founder and CEO turned down the offer.
My instinct would be to "take the money!" and come to think of it, it would also be my advice even without knowing anything about the company or the market... I don't know, turning down $1Bill... is a ballsy move. I wouldn't do it.
Whether the company is worth 1, 2, 4 bill or frankly $40 mill, selling your company is the difference between a personal net worth of zero and a lot of money. That binary step is a lot of mental pressure. Nobody wants to wake up when they are 40, thinking "I coulda, shoulda".
Meanwhile the latest from the nanny-dar is that the girls have graduated and have started cleaning up their Facebook walls, what with finding their first jobs, looking more professional, and what not. And so I wonder, what will the new-new generation nanny-dar say next summer?