Next month, Facebook will go public on NASDAQ in an IPO that could be worth as much as $5 billion. In light of the huge buzz surrounding the long-awaited IPO, an enormous concentration of news media attention has focused on the social networking giant regarding possible major announcements.
On Monday, a monumental announcement came when Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg confirmed his company’s pending acquisition of Instagram, the popular photo sharing service.
But eCommerce wasn’t a factor in the announcement.
“We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.”
The acquisition, which will cost Facebook $1 billion in cash and shares, is expected to close in the second quarter. The purchase, however, still remains consequential in the short term, as investors are looking at every move as a potential incentive or disincentive to invest ahead of the IPO.
One such anticipated but still unconfirmed move by Facebook is that the company will, at some point before the IPO, drop a major eCommerce-related bombshell.
Is Facebook Changing Its Status?
According to no shortage of analysts and optimists in the retail space, Facebook has the potential to rival the likes of Amazon and eBay as a social commerce destination bigger than anything ever imagined.
Given the enormous appeal and possible revenue that could result from a dedicated eCommerce platform through Facebook, many believe the social network will entice and excite investors with an announced eCommerce plan shortly before the company goes public in May.
As recently as this week, Reuters profiled a number of startups finding success on Facebook. Among those featured is a small company called ManGlaze, which sells nail polish for men online. As it turns out, ManGlaze is now generating half of all sales through its Facebook store designed and launched by Payvment, a company that claims to launch some 1,500 Facebook stores a week.
“There is no denying that Facebook has huge potential in the eCommerce department,” independent business analyst and social media expert Mike Randazzo tells Daily Deal Media. “The reason we’re still debating this potential course is because it’s not yet clear if users want to aggressively use Facebook as an online store of sorts.”
Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru agrees. According to Mulpuru, Facebook is all about social interacting, not shopping.
“There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,” Mulpuru recently told Bloomberg. “But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”
But by Facebook’s own admission, eCommerce is on the social network’s radar. Just last summer, David Fisch, Facebook’s director of business development, said Facebook is poised to make shopping more social.
Just how transformative to Facebook such a new direction will prove remains a mystery at present. But there’s a good chance this mystery will be solved before Facebook’s IPO.