Half of Americans think Facebook is a passing fad, according to the results of a new Associated Press-CNBC poll. And, in the runup to the social network's initial public offering of stock, half of Americans also say the social network's expected asking price is too high.
The company Mark Zuckerberg created as a Harvard student eight years ago is preparing for what looks to be the biggest Internet IPO ever. Expected later this week, Facebook's Wall Street debut could value the company at $100 billion, making it worth more than Disney, Ford or Kraft Foods. Facebook on Tuesday lifted the expected price for its shares to $34 to $38 apiece from $28 to $35 each.
That's testament to the impressive numbers Facebook has posted in its relatively brief history. More than 40 percent of American adults log in to the site — to share news, personal observations, photos and more — at least once a week. In all, some 900 million people around the world are users. Facebook's revenue grew from $777 million in 2009 to $3.7 billion last year.
But just a third of those surveyed think the company's expected value is appropriate, while 50 percent say it is too high. Half the people surveyed say they think Facebook is a good bet, while 31 percent do not. The rest aren't sure.
Young adults, a majority of whom log on to Facebook daily, are more willing to dance to their hoodie-wearing piper, 28-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Among Zuckerberg's peers, adults 35 or younger, 59 percent say Facebook is a good bet. Compare that to the views of senior citizens: Only 39 percent of those 65 or older say Facebook shares are a good investment. Nearly half of Gen X'ers (ages 35-44) say the company is a good bet, as do 55 percent of middle-aged people.
Those under 35 are the generation most interested in Facebook's IPO because they've grown up immersed in the social network. Despite the intensity of their use, a narrow majority of young adults predict Facebook's appeal will fade down the road (51 percent), fewer think it will stick around as a service (44 percent).
The public overall is similarly divided on the company's future. Just under half of adults (46 percent) predict a short time line for Facebook, while 43 percent say it has staying power.
Only about a third of those polled have a good impression of CEO Zuckerberg, who has alienated some with Facebook's ever-changing approach to user privacy. Three of every five Facebook users say they have little or no faith that the company will protect their personal information.