Seriously, Don't Buy Facebook Stock
This article is a response to Fool contributor Andrew Marder's hilarious article, "Seriously, Buy Some Facebook Stock." Andrew is a friend of mine, therefore I know he can handle every terrible thing I say about him and his beloved Facebook.
I'd like to put to rest this obnoxiously overdone Facebook (NAS: FB) debate. Did investors get hurt? Yes. Did Wall Street do something evil again? Yes.
There were plenty of signs out there that Facebook wasn't the gold at the end of the 401(k). The finance-related issues have been well-covered by now, but we didn't even need to glance at an income statement to see the problems.
Take a deep breath...
If the glove don't fit -- hire a better ad team
Before I read the prospectus for Facebook, I already knew the company wasn't the place for my money. How could I have such amazing insight? Well, let's look at the "targeted" ads that are on my Facebook page right now:
70% off Modern Designs! 2,444 People like TouchofModern
First of all, fire that copywriter. What the hell is a modern design, and why would I buy one, even if it were 70% off? Do I care about the 2,444 people who "like" it? No. Millions of people "liked" Four Loko. I tried three one night; decorum prevents me from describing what happened.
The New Executive Hoodie -- Made with Superfine Merino Wool
Is this Mark Zuckerberg's side business? After he lost billions of dollars in two weeks (and sadly only has $15 billion left), did he decide to mass-market his dime-store sense of fashion? When I buy a hoodie, it's not "superfine merino wool" -- it's cotton.
If the ad-targeters knew what they were doing, they'd be putting pictures of Burnett's Gin and Game of Thrones all over my homepage.
Is it any wonder GM (NYS: GM) yanked its $10 million Facebook ad budget? Facebook was probably sending out Chevy Volt advertisements to the Saudis.
With an advertising budget of $1.8 billion, the $10 million wasn't a big slice for GM. In fact, you'd think GM could spare it for the sake of "being cool." The GM story suggests Facebook ads are "weaksauce."
"But Google IPO'ed at 217 times earnings!"
Shut it, Andrew. Go back to writing philosophical theses on the social impact of Mike's Hard Lemonade.
Google (NAS: GOOG) entertains me before I even start searching. The other day, I did nothing at work. I mean, nothing. The Google logo was a synthesizer that you could play and record music on. What does Facebook's logo do? It looks like it should be a label for an antidepressant.
And, speaking of advertising, Google at least shares its ad revenue with the other parties involved. Facebook takes your ad money and turns it into a giant ice sculpture in Sweden.
You know what Google doesn't do? It doesn't give me never-ending loads of junk about other people I don't even remotely care about. Google, on the other hand, already knows what you want before you can finish typing it. Rather than taking five years to become such close friends with someone that we finish each other's sentences, I just go to Google and blush when it knows what I'm thinking.
It's a focused tool for surfing the web. Facebook is the official sponsor of ADD.
"Payment platform": an industry buzzword!
I like the middleman business model that siphons off a bit of everyone's sales, but that only works when your community is actually selling something.
Call me old-fashioned, Andrew, but one day you will realize it doesn't make any sense to pay real money for a fake tractor. I know it's exciting when your fake crops are ready for their fake harvest so Zynga (NAS: ZNGA) can post something on your wall that makes you look cute, but are you out of your mind? Did you decide that in this time of economic strife, part of your precious savings would go toward buying "virtual money" that is worth virtually nothing? Why don't you just throw a Molotov cocktail into your savings bank?
If Facebook wants to sell apps to its 900 million users, it can go ahead. But try to make it like Apple's (NAS: AAPL) app store. Users download 46 million apps per day from Apple. Apple's apps offer function -- even if it's an app that allows you to virtually "tickle" your iPhone. Facebook's current "Buy One, Get Nothing in Return" deal isn't appealing to most of us.
Facebook is a brand. But what kind of a brand?
When I think of brands, I think of Coca-Cola or Mercedes Benz. These are brands that are synonymous with what they sell. You don't get a soda; you get a Coke. Buying a Mercedes is not just "buying a car."
When I think of Facebook, I think of my friends who post pictures of themselves at parties with "YOLO" -- an acronym for "You only live once" -- next to it. Jack Black said it best when he tweeted, "I am fairly certain that 'YOLO' is 'Carpe Diem' for stupid people."
Facebook's brand is that it's a meeting place for the world's dumbest minds. It's like going to a TED talk with the cast of Jersey Shore.
Facebook's brand has to mean something valuable and unique to its audience. Yes, "Facebook," like "Google," has become a verb. But when I look it up in a thesaurus, it reads, "time-suck," "stalker-tool," and "no actual friends."
If Facebook were a country...
Yes, Andrew, we know. Facebook has almost a billion people using its "services." But really, what if Facebook were the third-largest country in the world? It would be a place where you have no privacy. You would starve because you'd keep farming fantasy crops instead of real ones. The ruler would be a dictator who goes to great lengths to ensure he has far more power than any other individual. You could never really leave, because it stores all of your information on a giant server powered by the souls of children.
If Facebook were a country, it would be North Korea.
A "Thank you"
Andrew, Mark, Facebook: You have all been great sports. Andrew is an incredibly talented writer with a great eye for investing. Mark revolutionized the social experience by taking it online. I use Facebook every day to avoid doing real work and will continue to do so for a long time.
Feel free to leave death threats and/or your phone number in the comments section below. If you're like me, I feel bad for you, but at least there are stocks out there that won't make you go crazy. If you're looking for an online leader that's already proving itself, this company is a fraction of Facebook's size but has some features the social-networking juggernaut probably wishes it had. Find out more about this company in our special report: "Forget Facebook -- Here's the Tech IPO You Should Be Buying." Pick up your free copy today by clicking here.
At the time this article was published Fool contributor Michael Lewis would do awful things before owning Facebook stock. He also owns none of the other stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Coca-Cola. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Google, General Motors, and Coca-Cola, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.