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.
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