Facebook, Google, Yelp and others….

Facebook usage appears to be dropping, judging from various surveys.  While mobile usage is increasing, the trend among younger user base is to limit their overall Facebook usage.  It seems that this “early indicator” demographic is suggesting that we have peaked in terms of how much people rely on Facebook.  Some of this trend has to do with the increasing privacy concern of the users, especially the younger ones.  Some of it has to do with limited innovations at Facebook, and some has to do with just usage fatigue and maturity of the platform.

This trend may well accelerate as Facebook is pushing monetization aggressively, thus cluttering the pages and the newsfeed, and making them less useful for the users.  Compared with Google, which within a few years  of its success with search, had added entirely new applications such as email, maps, etc., Facebook has failed to introduce anything new, beyond improvements in its core offering (Instagram acquisition being a notable exception, but with limited impact).

The Companies to watch, IMHO, are Google, Amazon, Apple, as well as a list of smaller and emerging platforms, such as Pandora, Groupon (revisited), Shutterfly,  and Yelp.  I am most interested in Yelp, within this group, as it seems to have the highest potential and is most under-appreciated. Yelp is becoming The Platform for local search and consumption – no other company comes close its offering and Yelp continues to be the top, non-paid, listing on nearly all local search quarries on Google.  I suspect that just as we got accustomed to Wikipedia being the top source and many of us started typing “[querry] Wikipedia”  in Google, Yelp could become the Wikipedia for local search.  To be sure, there are a number of shortcomings in Yelp and the company does need a much more agile and Web 3.0 strategy, but it is also so far ahead of anyone else that it can afford to be slow in some areas.

[Full disclosure: I have long position in all of the stocks mentioned above except Facebook and Amazon at this point; I hold no short positions in the stocks mentioned above]

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