Facebook Can Find Staff, but What About Business Model?

Ann All

Facebook has money to burn, thanks to a $200 million cash infusion from Russian investment group Digital Sky. So it's decided to spend some of the scratch on staff.


Less than two weeks after Facebook snagged Friendfeed for an undisclosed sum, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed in an interview with Bloomberg that he plans to grow Facebook's staff by up to 50 percent this year. Perhaps it's a sign the company has big plans for its Friendfeed acquisition. Staffing figured into that purchase, since an executive team composed largely of former star Google employees agreed to move into senior roles on Facebook's engineering and product teams.


Numbers seem important to Zuckerberg. Back in the spring of 2008, he announced he wanted to more than double Facebook's staff, from 450 to 1,000, by the end of the year. In the Bloomberg interview, he pointed out that Google nearly doubled its staff annually in the three years through 2005, a year after it went public. Sure, but that was after the search giant created its wildly successful AdWords juggernaut. Facebook has yet to come up with any ideas as revolutionary, or as profitable. And it's worth remembering that even Google has taken knocks for growing its workforce too enthusiastically.


As Zuckerberg told Bloomberg, Facebook seemingly has its pick of potential employees after sweeping rounds of layoffs in the tech industry earlier this year. Hiring talented staff when your competitors can't is one of the innovation opportunities suggested by Boston Consulting Group for companies with attractive cash positions. So is acquiring innovative companies and/or intellectual property.


No offense to Facebook, but these suggestions seem far easier to accomplish than this one from BCG:


Create new and strategic business models. Competitors may be too preoccupied with short-term financial performance to recognize or react to such models.


Maybe staffing up will help Facebook accomplish this more elusive goal.

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