Who isn’t talking about Facebook?

Ok, so everyone is talking about Facebook and its IPO. There are several elements about this that I find interesting, none of which involve the billions of dollars that the IPO is going to raise.

1) So many of the overnight success stories we are talking involve businesses with a model that can be described like this: “we connect people to _______________ through _________________” Years ago, that was Yahoo connecting people to people through free e-mail. Then it was Google connecting people to information through an improved search algorithm. More recently, it’s Instragram connecting people to each other through photographs.

2) Of the big companies that Forbes compares Facebook to – Bank of America, Kraft Foods, Comcast, and Amazon, among others – arguably, Amazon is the only one that can possibly claim to be in the business of connecting people (the review system is, after all, interactive). Still, I can be a consumer of all of the above and never connect. They are comparing apples to ice cream.

3) While I’m not a big Facebook user or fan (I actually loathe it, but that’s another story), the reality is that it’s being valued at astronomical prices because it enables humans to engage in fundamentally human activity: connecting.

4) Are the financial experts right to question the monetary value of Facebook to its potential shareholders? Absolutely. But there are valuable lessons here for the Federal Government, from HR to Communications to inter-office relationships. Your customers – the American people, your colleagues, your collaborators – want to connect. The drive to connect is so strong that the financial world looks at that need and says that collectively, it’s worth billions. Are you harnessing that drive? Should you be?

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