Facebook's 50% Staff Increase Behind Schedule?Bloomberg
As any MBA will attest, the present surplus of talented, out-of-work professionals lends itself to entrepreneurial opportunity. Even, it appears, if you're an entrepreneur who's already cornered your chosen market, as in the case of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg who's planning to grow his staff by up to 50% this year.
Yet, the world's most popular social network -- which already employs about 1,000 engineers, designers, and (ostensibly) a few ad salespeople -- is actually growing its workforce at a slower rate than "comparable" startups, Zuckerberg says. Google, for one, nearly doubled its staff every year between 2005 -- when it went public -- and 2008.
Such restraint, says the Harvard dropout, will put Facebook in a better position to reach positive cash flow next year. It also -- depending on your point of view -- represents the savvy of a new generation of Web entrepreneurs, or a lack of confidence.
Remarkably, despite its rapid growth and massive footprint of over 250 million users, confidence in Facebook's future remains mixed among some key constituencies.
Advertisers have their reservations, and arguably for good reason. An IDC survey last year found users of social-networking sites were less likely than other Web users to click on ads or buy the item if they did.
There's also the interesting case of Facebook employees rushing to cash out their stock options.
Zuckerberg says he makes business decisions -- from hiring to site design -- on the premise that Facebook is still in its infancy. That might be true. What is certain, however, is that social networking -- or whatever we're calling it 5-10-15 years from now -- is in its early stages, which represents both the greatest threat and opportunity for Facebook.
Frankly -- given the meteoric rise of various online platforms a la Twitter ( indeed fueled by the present surplus of talented, out-of-work professionals), along with Facebook's many design and monetization issues -- we suspect that restrained expansion will soon be the least of Zuckerberg's problems.
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