Buy Facebook,only company that offers life after death

Buy facebook? is what many are asking.

I will not make the same mistake I made in 2004 when I panned the initial public stock offering of Google.

"A bet on Google is a bet on a company that makes 95% of its revenues on Internet advertising," I wrote, before I came to work for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal Sunday. "Google's growth curve won't last forever."

"It's only a matter of time before someone gobbles Google's lunch.

"This deal is about…cashing in from investors who somehow forgot the Internet bust.

"An IPO is not an entrance, it's an exit."

Google stock has since soared more than 580%. The company went from a market value of $27.6 billion on its first day of trading to about $190 billion today.

The same things I said about Google, I could say about Facebook, which was founded the same year Google went public.

It makes most of its money from advertising, its growth is slowing, its competition is fierce, its earnings weren't quite what analysts expected and the only people sure to get rich off this deal are the ones dumping shares.

The stock market remains dicey, and other recent tech IPOs—online gaming company Zynga and daily-deal site Groupon—rolled high numbers.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook's IPO is not about the money. But he then says it's about creating a liquid market so his employees and investors can get their money—proving the maxim that it's always about the money.

No doubt Facebook millionaires will repeatedly make headlines in 2012, as will Mr. Zuckerberg's Facebook shares, which are expected to be valued at around $28 billion. No doubt the hype around this IPO, valuing the company as high as $100 billion,will bury headlines about the debt crisis in Europe and the continuing slump in the U.S.

I still want to hit the "like" button.

Consumers love buying brand-name stocks and Facebook is a brand to 845 million consumers. It may have a billion users by this summer—or about one out of seven people in the known universe.

How many companies have this many sales leads?

Supply and demand for Facebook stock will ensure IPO madness. The 2012 IPO market, otherwise, will be just another yawner. Is anyone excited about Del Frisco's steak house going public?

Yes, you could say, I am buying into the hype. But is there any other way to buy an IPO stock? Amazing IPOs are not driven by numbers. They are driven by stories and Facebook has a compelling story.

People find themselves reunited with friends they thought they'd never hear from again. Revolutionaries organize revolts from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street. News no longer needs a front page to change the world.

But, for me, the most remarkable thing about Facebook is how it raises the dead. My dead Facebook friends still get happy birthday wishes and cheerful photos posted on their walls.

Facebook, if properly notified, will "memorialize" the pages of the dead, leaving them open only to family and friends.

Apparently, some users find it alarming when they receive Facebook suggestions to connect with the dead. Others do not. In fact, a software developer recently created an app that will send out your final wall posting when you die, letting everyone know what you really think of this life.

We all have to leave Earth. We do not have to leave Facebook. How many other companies offer life after death?

Al Lewis is a columnist for Dow Jones Newswires in Denver.

wsj online

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