Max Rafael Levchin, co-founder and former CTO of PayPal, had some good things to say about Facebook today, at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco. Levchin and Benchmark Capital's Bill Gurley answered questions about "game-changing technology," one of which was in regards to Facebook's unprecedented growth and its impact. Levchin reportedly argued that Facebook could become the "most valuable company in the world" if it can "successfully replace core messaging," according to Mashable:
"Facebook has all but successfully monopolized White Pages," Levchin said, explaining that when you want to find and connect with someone, you go to Facebook. Unlike the White Pages though, Facebook also has information on a person's interests, likes and social graph. That alone has turned Facebook into a $50 billion company. However, Levchin says that that becoming the repository for personal information could result "in Facebook successfully replacing core messaging." If it becomes the web's primary communication platform, it could become the most valuable company in the world.
As a side note, the social networking giant certainly wants to pull it off. Rumors claim top executives want to see Facebook turn into the world's first trillion dollar company.
Levchin founded another company in 2004: Slide, a personal media-sharing service for social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Google bought his company in August 2010 for $182 million, and so he now works for the search giant, as one of the company's many people with the title "Vice President of Engineering."
It's thus unsurprising that Levchin was quick to emphasize that Facebook's business should not be confused with demand generation or demand discovery (think search). The Ukrainian-born computer scientist and entrepreneur says he has read that social graph signals are not particularly effective in optimizing search-related advertising. I would argue that this may be for today, but what is coming tomorrow has simply not yet materialized. Facebook has some of the best engineering talent in the world.