During the Office 2.0 Conference last week, Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu said that Facebook could become the identity platform for the Web. "Facebook scratches an itch. We are learning from watching it, how things evolve organically. You cannot force feed it. Facebook is making pragmatic choices."
On Sunday I caught up with Peter Thiel, one of Facebook's early investors and a board member at the Singularity Summit 2007. I asked him if he thought that Facebook could be the Web identity platform--more than a white pages, a hub for managing Web presence and personal data.
Thiel justified his faith (besides his stake in the company) in Facebook's prowess based on the exponential growth of the social network. Facebook is growing at 3 to 4 percent compounded weekly, with about 38 million members currently, he told me. At the current growth rate Facebook would have 220 million members in a year. "In three years, we could have everybody on the planet, but that's not going to happen, but people underestimate the power of the exponential growth we are seeing," he said.
He also said that Facebook is roughly break even in terms of cash flow, based on the basic ad programs served today, but over the next few months will unveil new aspects of its business model and advertising plans.
With hundreds of millions of members, and some portion active, and trillions of bits of data to mine riding on the social graph, it's not difficult to see the immense revenue opportunities in front of Facebook if it can keep the wheels from falling off.