Facebook IPO may be coming Wednesday

January 31, 2012

If Facebook is indeed about to go public, as a report in the Wall Street Journal suggests, its young chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will face some new challenges. Jena McGregor reports:

With just 3,000 employees, Facebook is relatively small for the $4 billion in revenues it brings in, and the new campus can only scale to 3,600 without getting approval from the local city council. If Zuckerberg is forced to scale (at least in headcount at headquarters) just a little more slowly, that could help Facebook retain a smaller feel. There is nothing quite like extra layers of management and needless levels of hierarchies to make a place feel corporate and slow.

Still, the most critical thing Zuckerberg will need to do to keep Facebook from feeling too big too fast will be setting up the right incentives and retaining some of his best veteran employees. Some will leave, without question, emboldened by their massive riches and ready to take on new challenges or start their own future Facebooks of the world.  Those who are motivated to stay will do so because they continue to feel challenged, appreciated and motivated by a culture that remains focused on innovative products rather than the whatever-the-price profits.

And therein lies Zuckerberg’s most monumental challenge. Once there’s a stock price to follow—especially in a milieu like Silicon Valley where stock options have long been a measure of one’s worth—distracting people from it will be extremely difficult. Zuckerberg will need to make sure that people are measured and evaluated on any and all metrics—innovative new products, revenues, profits, employee satisfaction—that keep the company performing as efficiently as possible. He’ll just need to make sure the stock price is not one of them.

Meanwhile, a poll reveals that the social networking giant’s latest design change, Timeline, is not especially popular with users. Hayley Tsukayama writes:

A nonscientific poll of more than 4,000 Facebook users found that about half of those surveyed say that they are “worried” by Facebook’s new Timeline format. More than 30 percent said that they didn’t “know why I’m still on Facebook.”

These users say that they’re spooked by the social network’s new, mandatory format change, which displays all the information they’ve ever shared on Facebook in a scrapbook-like format.

Readers of Slashgear appear similarly concerned, with 45 percent of 5,800 respondents saying that they said they would consider deleting their Facebook accounts.

It’s worth noting that those who tend to read stories about privacy — the blog of a security company, for instance — are more likely to be wary of over-sharing, but the polls do show that the concerns aren’t just coming from a handful of folks.

The mandatory changes to the layout are set to roll out in the “next few weeks,” the company said in a blog post last week . Once the new layout hits your account, you’ll have seven days to review your profile and manage the privacy settings on every single post. Users can also set a default privacy setting for all of their posts.

Facebook also announced Monday that it was teaming up with Google and Microsoft to combat e-mail “phishing”scams. The Associated Press reports:

Google, Facebook and other big tech companies are jointly designing a system for combating email scams known as phishing.

Such scams try to trick people into giving away passwords and other personal information by sending emails that look as if they come from a legitimate bank, retailer or other business. When Bank of America customers see emails that appear to come from the bank, they might click on a link that takes them to a fake site mimicking the real Bank of America’s. There, they might enter personal details, which scam artists can capture and use for fraud.

To combat that, 15 major technology and financial companies have formed an organization to design a system for authenticating emails from legitimate senders and weeding out fakes. The new system is called DMARC — short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance.

DMARC builds upon existing techniques used to combat spam. Those techniques are designed to verify that an email actually came from the sender in question. The problem is there are multiple approaches for doing that and no standard way of dealing with emails believed to be fake.

The new system addresses that by asking email senders and the companies that provide email services to share information about the email messages they send and receive. In addition to authenticating their legitimate emails using the existing systems, companies can receive alerts from email providers every time their domain name is used in a fake message. They can then ask the email providers to move such messages to spam folder or block them outright.

More from The Washington Post:

Google wants car that drives itself

Uploading rate on YouTube soars

Samsung Galaxy Note coming on Feb. 19

Barnes & Noble may sell Nook outside U.S.

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