How Google can crush Facebook.

Facebook and GOogle have lots of money. I mean LOTS AND LOTS of money. In the bank, sitting there. Doing nothing but gaining interest and making the balance sheet look good.

And they are “at war” with each other. One rules social, one rules search. Both make a lot of money using advertising. In their own way, both want to be the “go to” place for your connected world. Google mostly wants you using products and services that get you viewing Google’s ads. Facebook wants you doing Facebook-y things that get you on to their “platform” so they can get you viewing Facebook ads. (This goes back to the most important rule of internet usage: if you aren’t spending money as the customer, then you are the product).

Anyway, with it a given that Google and Facebook want your eyeballs all the time, at the expense of the other, why doesn’t one of them take a small pile of that medium sized pile of cash and and pay you?

For example, Facebook has at least a billion dollars in the bank and a 70 billion dollar valuation. Google has a zillion dollars in the bank and an accompanying valuation. Facebook has 700 million members, roughly. Let’s assume that half of those are actual active accounts. 350 million people using Facebook. Let’s say 1/3 are power-users, 1/3 are “the grandmothers”(those who followed family members on to the site so they could see pictures of the grandkids and otherwise don’t do much), and 1/3 are fence-straddlers (people who have an account but haven’t yet found it to be essential to their daily routine)

Using those numbers, why doesn’t google post an offer that goes like this:

“We will give $1,000 to the first 10 million people who abandon their Facebook accounts for a year.” (From a tech standpoint, the Big G could develop a download that the person was required to install on their computers and mobile devices that would either block Facebook or log their actions. Whatever, they can figure it out).

I rarely use facebook (a “fence-straddler”), so I’d gladly take a grand to avoid it for a year. I’m sure there are 10 million more like me as well: people who have accounts but don’t use them very often. And therein lies the reason this plan would work: Facebook’s power users may account for certain revenue but they don’t account for any growth. They are already active, satisfied, knowledgeable of how FB works. The value of those users is already being extracted. The grandmothers aren’t EVER going to get more integrated in to Facebook outside of checking up on a few friends and looking at photos. Your Grandpop isn’t playing Mafia Wars. Facebook’s target now is people like me: people who have an account but don’t use it much, if at all. I might check my FB once a month if I’m done surfing the rest of the internet. There is a lot of value for FB to be extracted from me using their service more. But if Google offered me $1,000 to leave and never come back, I would.

OVer time this strategy wouldn’t really be the death knell for FB. But the billion dollar investment would buy Google something they desperately need as they try and compete in social: TIME. Stunting FB’s growth for a year, getting the next wave of FB-power-users to sit on the sidelines for 12 months buys Google time to build a social product and a social strategy. ANd if they want to kick in another billion dollars for me and my 10 million friends to tell them WHY facebook stinks and why we don’t use it, well that would be fine with us. Money well spent if you ask me.

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