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Dive into Facebook's IPO? I don't think so [Video]

May 17, 2012|By David Lazarus

Like most people, you've probably shaken your head in disbelief at Facebook's popularity. And like most people, you probably wouldn't say no to a share or two when Facebook goes public on Friday.

That's the thing: A recent poll found that nearly half of respondents say they think taht Facebook is just a passing fad. But there's no denying the hoopla surrounding the company's IPO, and a sense that it'd be crazy not to get a piece of the action.

Me, I'm keeping my distance, just as I did when Google went public. In that case, I was dead wrong. The search giant's stock took off like a rocket and never came back to Earth. But my reasoning was sound.

I worried that someone else could easily come along with their own fancy algorithm and eat Google's lunch. And it could still happen.

And that worry is even more valid in Facebook's case. The company's fortunes are built almost entirely on its huge user base and how that user base can be sold to marketers. If those users go elsewhere -- boom, no more Facebook. (MySpace, anyone?)

Moreover, it was a pretty loud shot across Facebook's bow when General Motors said it would pull $10 million in advertising from the site because it wasn't getting any bang for its buck. If GM has reached that conclusion, how long before other big advertisers think the same?

And how will Facebook make money off mobile devices, where ads aren't so much of a going concern.

Maybe I'll be wrong again in Facebook's case. Maybe the stock will hit the stratosphere.

But I'll sleep better parking my money elsewhere.

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