[note: I can’t post to wordpress comments so i’ll do it here]
David Scott Lewis commented on my last post on Facebook supporting John Battelle. Here is David’s comment and my reply
—John (Furrier), John (Battelle) is right. It’s PageRank that made Google. Without the efficiency of their search engine, they’d be toast (well, at least not a significant player). True, they had to figure out a way to make money from search. But without a sustainable competitive advantage in search, Google would have become a me-too search engine.
And this is John Battelle’s point about Facebook that is dead-on. What does Facebook have that is a sustainable competitive advantage? At this point, nothing. Might happen. I like their team, a mix of young and bright “kids”, and seasoned execs. I wouldn’t put it past them to come up with a sustainable competitive advantage. But this point, it’s pure speculation.
PageRank gave Google time to figure out a strategy. What does Facebook have that will do the same? Also, isn’t Facebook a bit elitist relative to MySpace? Discounting MySpace so soon seems a bit premature, drinking way too much Facebook Kool-Aid.
— my reply
Hi David,I think that John is not right on this but I understand his point. Pagerank made Google the best search engine of its time but it was adwords and adsense that made it the money machine that it is. No debate there. My point is that John B was shooting blanks on the future of Facebook. I believe that Facebook has the equivalent to what Pagerank represented to Google…active trusted communities. Their platform is gravy but it’s the users and their behavior(in context) that counts … I believe that Facebook will monetize the same way Google did..they will figure it out..right now Facebook is in the same position Google was in before Adwords – I know I worked with Google in 99-00 when I was at Realnames running the product group which handles the Google backend relations for their search before Googles ad model kicked in. No one mainstream in 99-01 was calling Pagerank a sustainable advantage.. Monday morning quarterbacking on Google is easy now. So the argument that John B puts forth about Facebook is the same that many gave Google back in 99-00. I’m sure John B did too (on Google) then as a editor of his publication.
MySpace is not as strong as Facebook… Facebook is a “life platform” for people.
Robert Scoble who has been exploring in great detail all the social media platforms has some great insights. Facebook is not hype. It’s real.