Windows 8, Facebook IPO troubles, mobile advertising challenges, and what a hot lawsuit against a Silicon Valley VC means for women in technology.
Read on to see the stories making headline news on the tech scene this week!
Trending today on Twitter
First trending we have “RIP Justin Bieber.” Then later, “Ask Steve Jobs.” Twitter kills people who are still alive and asks questions of those that are dead.
Windows 8 comes out this fall and the buzz keeps building! As most people know, it will run on both desktops and tablets, and offer touch screen capabilities and use tiles instead of the dreaded Microsoft start menu. New Windows 8 tablets are expected from all the major hardware manufacturers (Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Samsung, HP and Lenovo). We could also see a new crop of tablet-laptop combination devices, sporting Windows 8. The operating system might also work with the new Windows phones expected out later this year. The key for Microsoft is whether it can create a mobile experience for the desktop and can linking mobile devices with traditional desktops give it an edge in each of these markets? I think at the enterprise level, Windows 8 may help Microsoft protect its current customer base and stop the migration to Mac. But will it take off with consumers? I think that’s less likely. People love the iPad –no other tablets have succeeded but the iPad– and even Android is losing ground to the iPhone.
FaceBook IPO Troubles
I reported earlier about the long anticipated Facebook IPO, which took place on Friday. What happened next has turned into nothing short of a debacle. It all started with a Nasdaq glitch; early this week some brokerages were still unsure if their orders had closed, or at what price. Those traders that took losses because of the glitch are still waiting to hear what Nasdaq plans to do about compensating them. Lawsuit #1.
Totally separate from the Nasdaq issues, there’s a regulatory investigation beginning into how Facebook and its bankers handled sensitive financial information that was “selectively disclosed” to big banks ahead of the IPO. Lawsuit #2.
So why has the stock price fallen so much? Some market watchers are saying that Nasdaq’s glitch and other technical trading issues are contributing factors. But others attribute the demise to the IPO itself, which was remarkably high given Facebook’s financial fundamentals. All of the drama around Facebook’s IPO may have some investors taking a very close look at the company — and thinking twice about what its stock is really worth. The big question I have with Facebook, is could the stock take down the rest of the tech sector? Is it enough to “pop the bubble,” so to speak? Comparisons between today’s Internet IPO valuations and the Dotcom boom in the late 1990s have been coming for months now; and while they’re not the same, like any investment trend, they depend on strong investor confidence. Once investors lose confidence in a flagship company, that uncertainty could soon infect other industry brands as well, however unrelated. Facebook could end up blowing us away, of course. They’ve been criticized for being overvalued, and the P/E was at 100 – but remember that Apple’s IPO valuation in 1980 had a P/E ratio of 92. So there is a precedent for succeeding even with a massive valuation compared to actual revenue. I think to succeed, however, Facebook may have to change its attitude -especially toward consumer data. It may have to mine more. It will definitely have to do better on advertising, and mobile advertising is the key. But other approaches shouldn’t be taken off the table -like creating premium subscriptions and the like (think LinkedIn).
Mobile Advertising Challenges
Facebook will need to make some serious cash in the years ahead; while ads will account for a portion of projected revenue growth, in the ad space, Facebook simply isn’t completing well with giants like Google. Facebook will need to look to Apps (i.e. social games like Farmville) for new revenue streams. After all, as compared to ads, there are only so many ads that can be crammed onto a tiny mobile screen. Mobile advertising challenges will be largely driven by Facebook’s massive revenue demands, so I’m excited to see what new startups will end up playing a role in that. Could we see more private equity going into smart mobile advertising solutions? I definitely think so. And I think we could also see more acquisitions in this space occurring as well, from a lot of big brands.
Microsoft So.cl is being dubbed a “Bing Bulletin Board.” The new social sharing concept debuted this week as a possible rival to Facebook. So.cl looks to me like a hybrid of Bing Search, Pinterest and Facebook. Some have asked whether it’s the next Facebook (suggesting it might become a replacement). If Facebook invented what is modern day social media, why are people looking toward a gen-2 Facebook replacement? Facebook does what it does well. A competitor needs to INVENT something new to draw users away from something that is free and works well. We should look towards new tech startups (like Facebook once was — when it invented its own genre of technology). I am sure Microsoft understands it won’t know Facebook out so easily, since as of right now, users can only sign in to So.cl though their Facebook or Windows Live accounts. I’m not sure that I see So.cl succeeding at all. Google+ (a.k.a. Google c+) is having a hard enough time, and they have Google Search and the Android platform to support them. How can Microsoft even hope to succeed? I think the real direction for social networks today is one-to-one networking and private networks, sites that keep your information private. We’ve seen a bunch of these startups recently like Path, Pair, Cupple, Everyme and Sgrouples.
What does the Kleiner Perkins Lawsuit mean for Women in tech?
Women in tech is an issue that’s simmered for years – but it just got a lot hotter with a sexual harrassment lawsuit against the legendary VC firm Kleiner Perkins, by a former partner. The female investment partner claims she suffered multiple instances of sexual harassment, retaliation and sexual and gender discrimination over the past six years. Out of 50 people on its investment and operations teams, Kleiner employs 12 women, according to the firm’s website. These figures reflect that Kleiner is more gender-diverse than the venture capital industry as a whole, which is dominated by men, especially white men. I don’t think this suit can be marked as a clear reflection of the way women are treated in Silicon Valley or the technology space as a whole; it looks to me like an isolated incident. But nonetheless, this is terrible press for a company that, on the surface, has been trying to maintain gender diversity.
Are women treated differently in tech? It’s a hot topic of debate on SheBytes! For whatever reason, the majority of people in tech are men (or boys) and that’s definitely driven the culture. I don’t believe women are excluded from success in tech, but I think the fraternal nature of the industry might make it harder to network and gain notice. On the other hand, being a standout in a sea of men can also work in a woman’s favor; it depends how she plays it. We have some great role models out there with Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Meg Whitman (HP), Marissa Mayer (Google), etc., who have done it right!