Let’s put aside the obvious issue with this cover — why Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was the better choice, and that Time magazine editors are a spineless eunuchs — and look at the psychology and market connotations of this year’s Man of the Year choice.

It is somewhat fitting that a decade after Time marked the very top of the internet bubble by putting Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos on the cover as person of the year in December 1999, this year, they opted for Facebook’s founder as their 2010 Person of the Year.

If history holds, TIME has just marked the top in the value of Facebook — at least for the foreseeable future. The Bezos cover marked the high point in Aamzon.com’s stock for the next 10 years.

Understand the psychology of why this is: By the time any phenomena reaches the editorial room meetings of a major non business publication such as Time, it is already a widely held social factor. (1999 Example: Buying books and other gadgets on the internet? Why you don’t say– that’s ingenious!)  Ubiquitous Facebook has 500 million users, is now at the point where its early and middle adopters are cringing as their parents sign up and “friend” them.

From a financial perspective, the mostly, kinda/sorta eventually efficient market has already reflected this. Facebook isn’t publicly traded, but its theoretical value has been pegged as high as $33 billion dollars, based on his paper donation to the Newark school system. In June of 2010, Elevation Partners paid $120 million for an implied valuation of $23 billion. Microsoft’s 2008 investment of $240 million was at the $15 billion level.

Given the challenge in monetizing that massive user base, $33 $58.75 billion seems pretty rich. Time will tell if, like Amazon, Time just marked a decade long top in Facebook valuation. History suggests that its a pretty good bet it did.

What this means for the broader internet valuation and Web2.0 is yet to be determined . . .

A Decade Before Amazon Regained its TIME Top


UPDATE December 17, 2010 9:22am:

I am told that the value of Facebook is now $58 billion plus,based on 2 million shares changing hands at $23.50 out of a reported 2.5bn shares — that out across the various classes. 85.75 billion dollars . . .

UPDATE 2 December 22, 2010 10:41am:

Paul Kedrosky reports FB is now at $67 billion dollars.


Magazine Cover Indicators

Person of the Year 2010: Mark Zuckerberg
Time  Dec. 15, 2010


Category: Contrary Indicators, Psychology

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

57 Responses to “Uh-Oh: Facebook’s Zuckerberg is Time Man of the Year”

  1. troubled times says:

    Your friends are the people you called , emailed or wrote before Facebook. But don’t worry, after “freinding” most of your old “pals” on Facebook you soon see why you didn’t keep in touch. It is ,for the most part, nothing but stop and chat small talk . Time made Mark Person of the Year ? The smoothies on wall street tell you its worth many billions.? America, you are infantile. Good Luck

  2. pmorrisonfl says:

    This has been bouncing around Twitter and Reddit, but I think it has a home here as well: “TIME’s Person of the Year is Mark Zuckerberg. Sorry, Assange, I guess you didn’t violate enough people’s privacy.” – Stephen Colbert

  3. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    I’ve been waiting until subscription fees come down before joining Facebook.


    It’s free?


    $33B worth of free?

    I don’t get it.

    Must be the new economy.

  4. abraxasny says:

    Actually, the value of Facebook is now north of $50bn. This week 2 m shares sold for $23.50. That is on top of ~2m trading at ~$20.68 a few weeks ago on second market. There are a reported 2.5bn shares out across the various classes.

    Market cap of $58bn

  5. pmorrisonfl says:

    Google is also free… seems to be working for them.

    There is a whole ecosystem of applications, games and ads growing up around Facebook. As it draws in the parents and grandparents I think it’s developing some of the characteristics of the newspapers/TV news ecosystem. I think this leaves a lot of room for ads, from classified to television, but addressed to much more specific markets than the old systems could target.

    I also think it’s important to distinguish stock price from the underlying company economics. Amazon’s only recently regained its old bubble price, but it has steadily been building customer base and revenues all along. Even if Facebook’s stock market ‘value’ isn’t properly priced, I think there’s an separate economic value that needs to be considered.

    Not that I actually know anything about either media or valuation, but if I did I bet my arguments would be even stronger.

  6. mcknz says:

    And then there’s USA Today’s cover story today:

    Experts: Get Back Into Stocks


  7. BennyProfane says:

    That kid gives me the creeps.

  8. machinehead says:

    Nice job of spotting the contrarian implications of Time’s chronic bad timing.

    As for Facebook’s value, I’ll see your $33 billion and raise you ten. As Bloomberg reported yesterday:

    Facebook’s growth is also attracting investor interest. The company has a valuation of $43.1 billion, according to SharesPost Inc., an exchange for privately held stocks. That’s up more than 60 percent from three months ago and almost quadruple the level in March.


    Meanwhile, Bloomberg puts a whisper number of $2 billion on Facebook’s 2010 sales, ‘according to three people familiar with the matter.’ [Moe, Shemp and Larry? Naw, just kidding!]

    So, on the back of a handy cocktail napkin, we can work out that Facebook’s price-to-sales ratio is a nosebleed 21.5. Earnings? Not even mentioned! We’re talking market share, eyeballs, clicks, just like 1999 all over again. The sky’s the limit!

    Not that the innumerate journos at Time would notice that it would take decades to make back the value of a Facebook share purchase with actual, you know, cash earnings. Of course, there’s an easy way to shorten the payback period — knock the price down!

    See ya’s at Nasdaq five thou!

  9. b_thunder says:

    TIME’s man of 2009 was Ben S. Bernanke. By the end of 2010 he’s far more hated than Assange, perhaps the most hated or “misunderstood” person of 2010.

  10. also, there’ this: “…The network will premiere an original documentary, called The Facebook Obsession, in January(’011)…”



    w/this: “$33B worth of free?”

    see some of:


  11. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    Yeah, I can appreciate the fringe income sources, but I don’t see targeted marketing (or anything else) worth $33B. The demand/pull function of internet marketing (I search for a product I want) would seem to be much more sustainable than the supply/push (Cheap Boner Pills! Delivered Free! Click Here!) function. Example: even though Amazon knows what I buy, and offers “suggestions” and promotional materials based on what they know about me, their marketing pitches don’t influence my purchasing decisions a great deal, although user reviews are useful when I search for a product. Then again, maybe that’s just me.

    I see Facebook as more akin to early AOL.

    Earlier joking aside, I have a Facebook account, and cringe when I get a, ‘_ wants to friend you’ email. I do know folks who are apparently addicted to it, but I really don’t see a huge revenue potential.

    Time (not TIME) will tell.

  12. Clem Stone says:

    Village Of The Damned

  13. [...] here it is: when Mark Zuckerberg makes the cover of Time Magazine as “Person of the Year”, is this the peak for Facebook (via Big Picture blog)? Plus, two videos depicting one’s life [...]

  14. Petey,

    I hear ya; I’m not saying that the U$D 33 Bn # is right (wrong, or indifferent)..

    was, just, laying out some the utilizations of all the data that peep are ‘giving’ to “Facebook”..

    trending toward http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=Target+Marketing+hyperpersonalization

    and, looking to add to http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=biometrics+augmented+reality

    “Facebook” is a massive Data vacuum–actually, the whole of the ‘WorldWide Wiretap’ is–that is providing that ‘Database’ for the, ever more fullsome, ’168. Track ‘n Trace’ “Economy” ..

  15. Jake S. says:

    “History suggests that its a pretty good bet it did.”

    History = sample size of..one? How about Andy Grove’s winning of this honor in 1997. That didn’t exactly mark a decade-long top.

  16. smallchou says:

    On your macro/Amazon comparison, you neglect to mention that happens to be when the entire market was trading at absurd valuations during the bubble (35+ P/E). I don’t see those kinds of macro numbers today.

    On “Given the challenge in monetizing that massive user base, $33 billion seems pretty rich,” are you aware of that $2B 2010 estimate on tremendous growth and increasing scale/efficiency? It’s a challenge in monetizing that user base for sure, but all indications are that they are conquering that challenge.

    There may be other reasons why TIME choosing him is a bad idea, but to base it on a couple of points related to company valuation seems silly.

  17. ashpelham2 says:

    Man, its all so Orwellian it’s frightening. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’ve evered entered keystrokes onto a computer that has a network connection that is live, tracing to your ISP that you purchase each month with a check, draft, or credit card, that there is nowhere you could hide. If you have a smart phone, or any phone, you can be found.

    Be prepared to own up to the things you say and do in the public world of the internet.

  18. JHZumbrun says:

    “Ubiquitous Facebook has 500 million users, is now at the point where its early and middle adopters are cringing as their parents sign up and “friend” them.”

    That’s the barrier it went through to get to 300 million users. Even the cringing phase is over. User growth in the U.S. is now confined to babies, but here’s the bigger challenge: I have been on the site for 5 and a half years and have never once clicked on an advertisement instead of a friend’s profile. Not once. I can’t identify a single advertisement I have ever seen on the site. Like any hominid, nothing is more interesting to me than looking at another hominid that I know.

    Quite a bit different from YouTube or Hulu where push-advertisement is still very effective.

  19. rktbrkr says:

    Valuations ebb and flow, especially in tech land, remember when Amazon was primarily about buying books? Now they’re moving the retail pile and brick and mortars like Worst Buy are getting crushed by online shopping sites.The convenience and price discovery available online has even been labeled deflationary (do something about it Ben!) Techland is littered with flashes in the pan (Apple is about the only roundtripper that comes to mind. If Mark is smart he’ll IPO and run with as much of Ben’s funny money as possible.

    Maybe 2011 will be Assange’s spotlight dance opportunity, he just needs to find a way to “monetize” leaks!

  20. rktbrkr says:

    Now this is a scary headline…
    And then there’s USA Today’s cover story today:

    Experts: Get Back Into Stocks


    …Five Wall Street heavyweights say it’s time for individual investors to shun the perceived safety of bonds — and get over their fear of the U.S. stock market — so they can take advantage of what they predict will be a third straight year of solid gains for stocks in 2011.

    I think BR said things are getting toppy when mom and pop are looking to get back into the market. Remember Ben Giveth and Taketh away and when he slams the QE machine into reverse the prols will be cut at the knees again.

  21. louis says:


    What do you really get out of facebook? Is it not really a hope that some girl from your past will find you and want to hook up again? We would of used it in High School for telling everybody what Park to meet at to get the weekend rolling. You can pseudo-intellectualize it if you need to, but if you really need to talk to me you know my #. And yes I can send you a picture of my kids in an email.

  22. Julia Chestnut says:

    Facebook is already waning, and so is Twitter. You can’t really feel the fall yet, but it is there. We have finally rediscovered the old adage that there is nothing more boring in the world than knowing too much about someone.

    On a more anecdotal level, my grandmother joining anything is the surest sign of jumping the shark EVER. My granny friended me on facebook at least 6 months ago. I’ve been waiting for the rest of the market to catch up with that indicator ever since. Perhaps all it really needed was Time’s cover. . . . .

  23. Arequipa01 says:

    @Clem Stone (are you related to the insurance magnate who had a beautiful Spanish hacienda -style spread on Sheridan Ave(?))

    Your comment is simply brilliant. Thank you.

    Wikitime: Village of the Damned


    “They dress impeccably, always walk as a group, speak in a very adult way, are very well-behaved… but they show no conscience or love and demonstrate a coldness to others. All of this has had the effect of most of the villagers fearing and being repulsed by them.”

  24. Transor Z says:

    Huh? To read some of these comments you’d think Facebook doesn’t already have lucrative information-sharing agreements with “game” (aka data-mining) providers like Zynga and all kinds of data-mining firms.

  25. beaufou says:

    There’s actually a facebook app to make your own Time person of the year.

    Assange is planning on starting his own social network:

  26. hankest says:

    Is there a way to short Facebook? If so, i’m in.

  27. FrancoisT says:

    I like The Onion’s tweeting take on this stuff:

    4: Mark Zuckerberg – Gotta Hand It To The Little Fucker #Onion20 http://onion.com/eriNct


  28. Sechel says:

    Could someone explain how Wikileaks is all that different than the Pentagon Papers?
    Or are memories that short.

  29. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    Meanwhile, Facebook is building up a face-recognition database using the tags in the photos that have been uploaded.

    Given Zuckermann’s penchant to disregard the privacy of Facebook users, I think the face-recognition database is a very frightening development.

  30. Jeff M says:

    Try this for an antidote!

    Mark Zuckerberg – Gotta Hand It To The Little Fucker
    Founder of Facebook
    December 17, 2010 | ISSUE 46•50

  31. boogabooga1114 says:

    Naturally our host’s focus is on what it means for the markets, but game-changing businesses and their effect on society at large goes far beyond their stock price (if they have one, which Facebook doesn’t, at least publicly).

    For a vast herd of consumers, Facebook has taken over the Internet, which means it’s taken over modern communications. And it’s done it in … what two, three years?

  32. Bokolis says:

    Why isn’t it apropos? For this set, Time is typically providing old news, with perspective from a crowded overlook. WikiLeaks lets us see how well we did on our conspiracy test. But, by and large, the masses don’t give a shit. If they did, we’d have stormed government and corporate offices, as our founding fathers rebelled for a lot less that the shit they’re pulling on us today.

    I think it provides a space for TBP to award its own MOY to Assange.

    Actually, it is me mum with the FB account, while I steadfastly refuse for three reasons:
    Living real life is involved and rewarding enough; I don’t need to live- and maintain- an on-line caricatured existence (“Bokolis” is my obligation to voice the third eye’s worldview)…
    I don’t want to deal with the fallout of turning down me mum’s friend request…
    Real bad boys- in case I ever have to revert- move in silence.

  33. gordo365 says:

    Love that USA today story.

    The picture caption should read “Wall of worry foundation members suggest a buy high and sell low strategy”

  34. Facebook is just another in a long stream of ultimately meaningless fads. The Fad economy, where we behave like water being sloshed around in a bucket, rushing from one side to the next as the bucket-tilter prefers, got its start with mass communication. The Beatles and Elvis, you know. Then it got stupider and stupider in the seventies, with leisure suits and pet rocks. Now it’s come full circle. Apple makes news selling the same old Beatles in a different medium, while mass communication itself becomes the fad. Fads always fade. It would be a good time for Zuckerberg to sell.

  35. Thor says:

    Fascinating thread – more for the comments than the thread itself. For all of you who think Facebook is a fad – how many of you even use it? I’d imagine these are many of the same people who said the iPad would never take off, that the iPhone would be a flash in the pan, or that businesses would never embrace it.

    For those of you wondering how something that has no fees could possibly be worth anything – two words. 500 million users, most with very detailed personal information held by Facebook. If you don’t think that’s worth something to marketers and advertisers, I’d suggest you do a little more research.

  36. Johnny99 says:

    Does anyone even remember Myspace?

    Oh, right. That is so 2007.

  37. [...] The magazine cover indicator applied to Facebook.  (Big Picture) [...]

  38. Marc P says:

    It has been a long while since Time Magazine was perceptive or insightful about anything. It’s been dumbed down to the 8th grade level and shortened to a newsletter. I can absorb all the substance in the time it takes to go through the grocery store checkout line.

    My prediction is that next year Time will pick Kim Kardashian.

  39. Uchicagoman says:

    Hah, good for Zuck.

    You see the problem is, it is a popularity and mass marketing website. Nothing more.
    It is REALTY TV personalized for each and everyone’s banal existence.
    Without the people, it has NOTHING.

    People will tire of it.

    Amazon actually had business model and service.
    Google and Apple are at least technology companies pushing things forward with real R&D.
    WTF does FB do? Store photos and idiotic wall messages? And people say this is the future of the web?
    I am sick of hearing the buzzword “social”. STFU already! Boooring, marketing, bollucks…
    Nobody NEEDs facebook to stay in touch. Especially with people you actually care about.

    My understanding is that Zynga is profitable. But FB? Not so sure just yet.
    Groupon is a better business model, frankly. Maybe they won’t last, but at least they are making some sweet dough for the moment, and they actually provide a useful product/service.

    Cheers to Anonymous! More dignity than the narcissists who insist on projecting ego 24/7.

  40. Uchicagoman says:

    I prefer these types of projects to FB:


  41. BennyProfane says:

    The Beatles were a fad? C’mon people, we’re reaching a bit. I’m no fan of Facebook, but, let’s just take a deep breath before we start typing again. Maybe, you know, Herman’s Hermits or the Archies, but, not the Fab Four, please.

  42. Bill in SF says:

    @Julia Chestnut:
    ” …my grandmother joining anything is the surest sign of jumping the shark EVER.”

    Yea, right. Next thing you know John Mauldin will be peddling snake0il on the internet.

    Oops, too late!

    International Stem Cell Corp. (OTC: ISCO) shares spiked nearly 15% today, moving on recent word that the company launched the first phase of its joint marketing campaign with John Mauldin, founder and chairman of Millennium Wave Investments and is appointed to market Lifeline Skin Care’s new topical skin care products to more than 1 million of Mauldin’s subscribers.

    Read more: http://www.beaconequity.com/otc-stock-in-news-international-stem-cell-spikes-15-2010-12-17/#ixzz18PEzE7ZV

  43. DL says:

    Adolf Hitler was Time Magazine’s “Man of the year” in 1938.


    He still had a good run for a few years after that.

  44. cognos says:

    Biggest thing since Google.

    Its google big — 600M worldwide users… will probably top out around 1.5B. Grandmothers everywhere are seeing photos and gossiping. Kids are doing the same. Basic human function that has been around forever, done by the perfect brand and org. American corporate capitalism and entreprenurship at its best.

    Has more revenue than Google did at this point in IPO trajectory. Will very likely be next $100B+ company. If you can… go get a job at Facebook. Its $1 to 10M in pre-ipo stock depending on what level you’re at.

  45. philipat says:

    Setting aside the other issue of how much longer a dead tree franchise such as Time can survive, “Spineless eunuchs” would mirror my sentiments entirely. Assange received half as many votes again compared to the next nearest contendor in Time’s own on-line poll.

    Perhaps it should have gone to Hilary Clinton as a reward for requiring US Diplomats to spy on their peer, in flagrant disregard for International conventions. But then nobody bothered about the similar disregard for the Geneva conventions in Iraq and Guantanamo so I suppose it should come as no surprise that nobody in the US media seems to want to discuss that either. Now, where was I with “Spineless eunuchs”……..

  46. on the tangent:

    More specifically, we need to reengineer the Internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment — who did it, from where, why and what was the result — more manageable.

    —Mike McConnell, VP Booz Allen Hamilton

    It’s like the man says at the blog below, “Here it comes.”

    Via: Economic Policy Journal:

    Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md has introduced a bill that would require the government and the private sector to require minimum cybsersecurity standards for devices that connect to the Internet.

    the Internet and Cybersecurity Safety Standards Act would require top government officials to determine the cost-effectiveness of requiring Internet service providers and others to develop and enforce cybersecurity safety standards, according to a press statement from Cardin’s office. Cardin is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee.

    The bill also requires officials — including Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, attorney general Eric Holder, and Commerce secretary Gary Locke — to consider the effect the standards would have on homeland security, the global economy, innovation, individual liberty, and privacy.

    Here’s Cardin’s full Press Release…

  47. and, soon, one for every ‘Citizen’..

    U.S. Army to Issue Smartphones to All Soldiers
    December 16th, 2010

    Via: USA Today:

    The Army wants to issue every soldier an iPhone or Android cellphone — it could be a soldier’s choice.

    And to top it off, the Army wants to pay your monthly phone bill.

    To most soldiers, it sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s real, said Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC). He said the Army would issue these smartphones just like any other piece of equipment a soldier receives.

    “One of the options potentially is to make it a piece of equipment in a soldier’s clothing bag,” Vane said.

    Efforts are underway around the Army to harness smart phones to revolutionize the way the service trains and fights.

    Army-issued smartphones are already in the schoolhouse and garrison, or on post, in the hands of some students at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Lee, Va.; and at Fort Sill, Okla., under an Army program called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications. CSDA’s next step, already underway at Fort Bliss, Texas, is testing for the war zone….”

    it’ll give a whole new meaning to: “You’re ‘Papers”, bitte!”

  48. Kralizec says:

    I think Sharbat Gula looks rather mannish without her headgear.

  49. donna says:

    I am told there are ads and silly games people actually pay for and all manner of other things on FB that I’ve never seen.

    Firefox, Adblocker Plus, NoScript, and Hide are wonderful things.

    And my kids and their friends all friended me on FB. Or rather my dog, since he’s way more popular than I am and I’m too cool to be on FB.

  50. ToNYC says:

    Yogi is the real Zen Master when he said, “It’s too crowded, nobody goes there anymore.” Nobodys get bizzy making do.

  51. MrUnexpectedly says:

    Mmmm this is so delicious. I’m techcrunching a tasty AOL sandwich, built in 1993 and still stacked with goodness. The P/E of $AMZN today (they’re the “control” in this, um, experiment) is a mere 71 or so, and from here it all just gets better, and better, and then best, especially when we Share among the Friends We Don’t Do Anything Unvirtual With.

    The saddest thing I can find to say about the avalanche of sad, sad, then sadder tech news is that twenty-five years into ubiquitous personal computing, we. have. no. idea. what. it. is. for.

    The happiest thing I can say about it is that Moore’s Law doesn’t give an applefriendstergoddamn about our incomprehension. See ya round the bot compost heap y’all.

  52. Leaving Facebook

    Last week, I joined Diaspora.

    Not the Diaspora—I didn’t convert to Judaism or emigrate anywhere. Instead, I accepted a coveted (by geeks) invitation to sign up for Diaspora, a decentralized, privacy-focused social network created by four New York University undergrads in response to what has been seen as Facebook’s focus on profits at the expense of users’ privacy.

    The foursome officially announced the project on April 24; they released an open-source developer version of the code in mid-September, and invitations to the website’s private alpha (the first phase of testing) began going out on November 23. Though Diaspora is a little buggy, a little underpopulated (I have two contacts, compared with hundreds on other sites), and a little Spartan in the way of features, it is already different in interesting ways from the sites that came before.

    Facebook is like a casino: garish, crowded, distracting, designed to lure you in and keep you there far longer than you ever intended. (The same is true of its predecessor, MySpace.) Status updates—not only by actual friends and acquaintances but also from companies, news outlets, celebrities, sports teams—jockey for space with videos, ads, games, chat windows, event calendars, and come-ons to find more people, make more connections, share more data.

  53. [...] hell with Zuckerberg, says the Financial Times, its Jobs: “Buoyed by the iPad, Apple’s shares finally surpassed [...]

  54. [...] Back on December 17th, I wrote that Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg getting tagged as Time’s Man of the Year meant the top was likely in for Facebook valuation at $58.75 billion dollars (Uh-Oh: Facebook’s Zuckerberg is Time Man of the Year). [...]