First $100 Billion (decline) is the hardest

After a brief few months sinking below its IPO price, Facebook has lived a charmed life on the capital markets. The stock has risen like a majestic Himalayan peak, hitting a whopping $193 a share, giving it s valuation of $560 billion. That was on February 1, 2018, long before the Cambridge Analytica revelations and the rise of the #deleteFacebook meme.

While there might not be people deleting the service — I mean what else will a world filled with boredom, polarization and cat photos going to do — but the Wall Street has taken a big bite out of its market capitalization. Facebook closed at $157.20 a share this week, with a market cap of $457 billion, down roughly $100 billion from the peak of $560 billion.

As a young reporter, you are always taught to follow the money. And there is a good reason — money speaks louder than words! The decline in market capitalization and its knock on effects on the long term future of the stock and thus the company syncs up nicely with the recent “apology tour” currently undertaken by the management.

Like I have said before, it is too late. Even with all this nothing is going to change. Facebook will be Facebook. Zuck will apologize and when you are not looking, will do it anyway. The advertisers will advertise — they have to sell, bonuses to make, vacations to pay for and keep the stock markets happy. Facebook stock will come back up, and all will be forgotten, replaced by yet another outrage meme. Sad, but true!

I don’t use Facebook for ethical and moral reasons. As a service, it is a net negative to our society. It has helped amplify the polarization that has always existed. So why then should I own their stock?

All I care is that we get some sort of a larger data regulation in place which doesn’t allow this and future Facebooks to abuse the rights of citizens. But given the state of our politics, that too is wishful thinking! After all, if a company can employ 500 people for its propaganda arm, you think they won’t hire a thousand to literally swamp the swamp.

April 7, 2018, San Francisco

A letter from Om

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