…is the core reason it makes sense for Facebook to be public: Accountability to its customers. The rest of this debate is simply financial folks arguing amongst themselves.
Facebook is the greatest repository of data about people’s intentions, relationships, and utterances that ever has been created. Period. And a company that owns that much private data should be accountable to the public. The public should be able to review its practices, its financials, and question its intentions in a manner backed by our collective and legally codified will. That’s the point of a public company – accountability, transparency, and thorough reporting.
If Facebook wants to stay private and not be part of the social mores which we’ve built that govern major corporations (flawed though they may be), well I think that would be a major strategic blunder, one that would ultimately doom the company. It’s fine for all sorts of companies to stay private, for all sorts of reasons. But a company like Facebook, with its unprecedented grasp of our social data, should be accountable to the public. If it isn’t, we’ll migrate our “social graphs” to a company that is.
If Zuckerberg doesn’t want to be a public CEO and deal with the realities of that, as this Reuters piece argues, well, he should find a CEO who is willing to do the job.
(If you’re not up on the debate, here’s a primer.)