Facebook’s secret revenue plans revealed

How is Facebook going to save its IPO and rake in oodles of cash? I've uncovered the secret. (Hint: It's not by charging $100 to send email to Mark Zuckerberg.)

Think you can chat up the world’s 36th richest man for free? You got another thing coming, homeboy.

As has now been widely reported, Facebook is experimenting with a revenue generating scheme that charges some users money to gain access to the rich, famous, and/or beautiful.

Yesterday, Mashable’s Chris Taylor – who is apparently stalking Mark Zuckerberg  – captured the following screenshot, which asked him for $100 in exchange to gain electronic access to the Boy in the Hoodie:

Zuck $100 email mashable-600p.jpg
Image: Mashable. Thanks, Pete!

Taylor wrote:

Keen Facebook observers will recognize this as a variant on the $1 pay-to-message plan that the social network has been experimenting with for months. The company indicated at the time that it would be experimenting with other prices, so it's possible we're starting to see the fruits of that….

Here's what Facebook had to say in a statement from a spokesperson: "We are testing some extreme price points to see what works to filter spam."

The idea of charging money for email delivery to make spam unprofitable is not an original one. But a hundred simoleons? That’s a new twist. Where can I get in on some of that action?

For the record, I just sent Zuckerberg a message (I wanted to know where he bought his hoodies) and it didn’t cost me one thin dime. But Facebook also didn’t give me the option to bypass the “Other” inbox that 99.999 percent of Facebook users, including me, have never noticed before. So perhaps this is a random test, to see if anyone might be willing to pony up serious coin for a few nanoseconds of a billionaire’s attention. Or maybe he just likes me better.

It does bring up the eternal question, though: How is Facebook going to raise large sacks full of shekels to please its shareholders? The answer might lie in the mystery announcement Facebook has planned for next Tuesday, January 15.

Image: Slashgear. Thanks, Chris!

What could Facebook possibly have up its sleeve? The inevitable speculation leads first to a smart phone, but I would be extremely surprised if that’s it. Others predict some kind of Google-like search/ad business, which seems more plausible, though I’d not sure how it would differ from Facebook’s current search and ad biz. Other guesses include a music sharing service (but why do that when Facebook is already so closely tied to Spotify?) or eCommerce (again, something Facebook has been playing with for a while).

Here’s my guess: The word “building” seems to suggest a platform more than a device or a service. Given that Facebook desperately needs some kind of mobile advertising solution, especially after the lack of one pole-axed its IPO last May, my money is on that being the big news next week.

So you read it here first: Facebook is about to unveil a mobile ad platform, and maybe some new mobile apps to go along with it.

That, or it’s banking that a lot of people will fork over the cost of a really nice steak dinner (and bottle of wine) for a few milliseconds of virtual time with Zuck. What do you think?

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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