You run out of superlatives pretty quickly when you talk about Facebook (FB) .
What can you really add? What adjectives, what adverbs can further hammer home the idea that a company could record $6.44 billion in sales, fully $440 million more than people were looking for?
What words do you have for a company this size that put up accelerating revenue growth?
How are you going to try to characterize the amazing nature of a 58% gross margin and, frankly, how little it costs to get people to come to the site (your principal costs being smart people and a lot of computers to be sure everything works). I mean, they don't make the content -- you do.
All of these issues come to mind in last night's Facebook conference call, which was quite different from all of the previous ones because, frankly, this company is just on a different plane than everyone else. It just isn't contained by the usual descriptions.
Trace the arc.
At first, it almost seemed that Facebook didn't know what to do. The company had this ideal desktop way to share text and some pictures and along comes the mobile phone and they really didn't have anything to offer. User growth was actually dropping. The idea of snaring branded advertisement seemed almost experimental. The biggest clients were companies introducing games, for heaven's sake.
Then came the pivot to mobile where CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanded that everything be better on mobile than on desktop because he saw the revolution. Impossibly, in a year's time, the company went from having not much mobile to having a very good place to put text and videos alongside unobtrusive ads.
Now the transition is all about video, as Zuckerberg, lyrical in his description, knows that the text and photos are giving way to video because video is simply a better way for people to express themselves and a better way for advertisers to reach those people in a fashion that is engaging and even uplifting.
"We see a world which is video first," he said, "with video at the heart of all of our apps and services."
I felt small when I listened to this call. I felt like I had been constrained by the chatter that Snapchat had somehow encroached on Facebook's turf or that people had become tired of Facebook itself.
I had fallen prey to those who would think that Facebook is somehow a fad that others can just come in and stomp on out of nowhere.
Meanwhile, Facebook recognizes that this company is the equivalent food and it wants to feed more of the world by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to be sure everyone can get on the web so they can get Facebook and Messenger and Instagram and WhatsApp because he knows once they can, they will be spending more and more time eating Facebook.
I am not kidding. You need to be historical to capture what going on here: the industrial revolution, the agrarian to the urban, the revolution in nutrition and food delivery.
I don't know. I am searching like everyone else. But it I clear to me that Facebook has figured out we are going to consume video like food once we get a cellphone and reception and you are going to consume that video on one form or another of Facebook's budding ecosystems, of which Zuckerberg is happy to have rivals knowing that his is also the best way for advertisers to put their wares in front of hungry consumers. The only thing he asks is that the advertisers improve the taste of the meal.
Yep, the secret behind Facebook's success is we keep looking at it as some sort of technology delivery system. It's not, it's a mobile you, where you show people what you see and we want to see it and we are happy to watch the ads while we are at it because they make the repast all the better.
We can't go without food.
We can't go without Facebook.