As I write this, Facebook is 2:01 from launching its most important update in the history of the company: becoming a public company and being traded on Wall Street.
When I joined Facebook in 2006, I thought it was kind of a cheesy alternative to MySpace. Well, it was, actually, either that or Friendster. Either way, I didn't think it'd sustain popularity anymore than Xanga or ICQ or mIRC. It'd be a brief bloom in the garden of internet. And yet, it persevered.
The company's popularity continued to swell until Facebook was removed from a niche interest and started to become a cultural institution. By 2007, industry bird-watchers were expecting Facebook to make an IPO as early as 2008. And yet, it didn't.
Roll over and Facebook said 2009 wasn't its year, either.
2010 was also supposed to be the year that Facebook's balls dropped and it'd mature into a fully reared adult. But again, it didn't happen that year, either.
Prolonging the foreplay is always a way to charm would-be suitors, and Facebook undoubtedly knew this. So in 2011, it didn't give Wall Street so much as a peck on the cheek before shutting the door on another year. This bit here is actually kind of amusing given today's lucre:
Lou Kerner, a former Internet analyst at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, is even more bullish, suggesting that Facebook could be worth $59 billion in 2011 and more than $100 billion by 2015.
So now it's 2012 and Facebook is ready for its debutante ball of $104 billion. Facebook's been warming up to this dance for many years and now its primed to melt hearts and bulge wallets.
Much has been said, much has been done, and it's come a long way since that Harvard desktop where a youthful Mark Zuckerberg conceived of a more social experience on the internet. 901 billion users later, the company is set to become one of the largest IPOs in history, not just in the tech industry.
The public era of Facebook has officially begun. Will it last? Will it brand us all with the mark of the beast? Will it simply continue to do what it's been doing the whole time? Will I finally get pushed into having a Timeline? Who knows. At this moment, it's Facebook's world; we just live in it.
Godspeed, you indigo emperor.