Continuing in this 4 or 5 year tradition now, I am going to put out my list of top ten things I think or hope will happen in 2010. This is largely about tech, so I’m not going to predict whether or not we will find Osama bin laden (doubtful), or the economy will rebound (eh, we’ll see). So if you want to see my relatively good track record so far, just browse the predictions category.
1. Facebook hits 500M users by Q3 2010.
So this wouldn’t have been so tough had I just said in 2010, I added some difficulty to this bet to make it more challenging. Consider this: Facebook passed 350M users in Dec 09, and was at 175M in february 09. So they doubled in just under 10 months. My proposal is to grow by only 50% in the next 9 months. Though in my opinion this growth is going to be much tougher than the last 150M were. As the total numbers of likely users to pool from are limited. unless…
2. Facebook makes a huuuge mobile push
Using facebook really requires a computer of some significant sophistication. There are about a billion users out there who are not ready to access facebook on a daily basis via a pc, but they do have mobile phones. If they get this recipe right, they could explode in emerging markets. They already have many of the local languages down, so think facebook super lite. In existing markets I see them pushing more location awareness, and geo-location. they might do this via….
3. Facebook acquires Foursquare or Brightkite
Why not Gowalla? Well facebook LUVS ex-google engineering talent, so this makes sense to me. This will give them a team or two of sharp mobile savvy location savvy engineers. Brightkite might be the cheaper option right now from a PR perspective (less “hot”) but Foursquare might be cheaper from an investor standpoint (less $ has been poured in).
4. Hulu emphasizes the social layer to tv watching.
In Act 1 Hulu showed us that content is really key, and that they can make a fair amount from streaming videos to lots of eager people. In round 2 I see a big big big facebook connect integration effort to enable better conversations around the social objects that are tv shows and movies. They also start using this expanded user data to fine tune the ads we see coupled with better video discovery software (your friends liked Cheers, so you may like Frasier, etc.)
5. MySpace has a major overhaul
I think this is probably underway, but we have no idea how radical the overhaul is going to be. One rumor floated on techcrunch was they were going to adopt facebook connect, which would be a super freaking bold move by CEO Owen Van Natta (former FB guy). Lets say they do discard their own social graph data as its largely nonsense (like twitter’s graph data will also turn out to be). So if Myspace decides to leverage facebook’s graph, it is going to cannibalize some of its “value” initially and traffic/users (“why should i login to myspace if its just suggesting existing fb friends??”) so they are going to take a big gamble on being an “entertainment” destination. Hi5 is trying to do this right now w/casual games, not sure if its working. I see this one ending poorly. Traffic will be down substantially by year end, revenue per pageview will be up a ton, but not enough to offset the traffic crash.
6. Someone will finally make it easy for small businesses to get online
Its 2009 and it is still tough for mom&pop stores to get connected to the web. So I see someone building a single simple point and click platform all web based to setup a true end to end online presence. Joe Shmoe’s cafe will be able to get a domain, simple to update website (or blog or both), setup a facebook page, a twitter account, watch simple steps on how to manage them all (through this control panel), and possibly setup a basic e-commerce store. This business with the right partners (lots of portals could get revshare deals out of this), enough traffic fast, and good sales and especially support, could be a $250M business in under 18 months. Will take a lot of capital to get this going. – Turns out I made the same prediction last year, and no one has done it. This time I am expanding the prediction. –
7. Social gaming companies evolve out of facebook.com
Zynga, SGN, and playfish all grow their sites out of their games and take a big % of the top 50 US web properties. My guess, amongst the top FB game makers they can grab 10-15 of the top 50 slots this year, in 1 year. Zynga is pushing over 100M active users (not sure how many are duplicates) across its games inside of facebook, my guess is they can average 50M monthly active outside of FB by year end (using connect).
8. Electronic Arts “socializes” some of their top games
I think a version of the Sims for facebook would CRUSH IT. Totally kill it. They could get there fast by acquiring the guys from Outsmart Labs in New Zealand who built Small Worlds and building on their engine. If they are smart, they snag the engineering team up quick, and get it out there in 6 months.
9. Physical P2P credit card transactions/money transfers don’t take off
Square and others have a long way to go before making it mainstream. If they can pull off making deals with every street vendor in america, sure, then they will be widespread, but not mainstream. They are still a long way away from being some attachment everyone carries with them on a daily basis. At least 18 months before that happens. I see paypal acquiring them first.
10. Twitter undergoes a major re-org design wise.
With the addition of lists, and the emphasis coming on applications interfacing with twitter. Could we see them making themselves more like facebook? At least in terms of UI and the fact that we will need more fine tuned controls in twitter, it strikes me as something they have to be working on. The question then becomes do they want to be the destination for interfacing, or do they want to simply be the backbone for this communication.