If you had access to the Internet this week, you'd know that Facebook bought the photo sharing software/service Instagram for $1 billion dollars. Of money.
Whenever a company carefully weights a major acquisition like this, a funny thing happens. Every four-toothed hillbilly starts telling them how they'd run their company, because hey, you can make better decisions with just a Facebook account than you can with access to the company's financial records, business plan, and a list of the expert advisors that's basically as long as they ask it to be.
But as annoying as this is, I'm throwing one more piece of outsider advice at Mr. Zuckerberg, because his business effects me, and hey, you're not doing anything right now anyway, right? I didn't think so. So, without further adieu:
Facebook should buy Ancestry.com.
I was hoping you'd ask that. Facebook has in their possession right now the most complete online record of living people. It's every digital agency's wet dream and they're a good deal ahead of the pack with 845 million members, inputing perhaps more information per capita than any other big social site. That's a healthy percentage of the current 6.8 billion people currently on this Earth. But how do you beat that?
I'm glad you asked.
The topic of digital assets after death is still hotly talked about. Current generations will be among the first to really deal with it. In a large number of cases, however, it seems that family members keep old Facebook accounts as a memorial, as one more way for the deceased to live on (maybe trimming out a few of those streaking photos from college). In the same vein, Ancestry.com attempts to get people adding records (uploading old photos, stories, web links), but is a lot more limited in it's interface and overall functionality at organizing this kind of 'social media' data.
But of course, that's not what it's about in our current society. For the same reason that we'll probably lack solar power until someone figures out how to put a meter on the sun and cures for diseases involving non-patentable solutions are brushed aside - it's about money. And, while it may not be obvious at first - Facebook scores it with this acquisition as well. Pooploads. Getting one user inputting data on dozens to hundreds of individuals instead of just one means a multiplication of ad impressions. It also gives Facebook what all of big data loves - data. Imagine it - ad targeting based on your genetic history. Full Facebook timelines for your grandparents compiled by your family.
Does it freak you out? Well, naturally. But it's what I would do if I were Mark.