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Its Financial Future In Question, Facebook Tries To Tell A Different Story

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Its Financial Future In Question, Facebook Tries To Tell A Different Story

Its Financial Future In Question, Facebook Tries To Tell A Different Story

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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On its first day as a public company, Facebook stock traded for more than $40 a share. Today, investors can pick up a share for half that. And Fidelity, a big, institutional investor, has sold off a chunk of its stake. As NPR's Steve Henn reports, executives at Facebook are now desperate to change the conversation about their company.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: For years, the vast majority of business stories about Facebook seemed to describe some kind of unstoppable force - a company that was doubling in size every year, with members who spent more time on the network month after month; and a user base so large, it rivaled the most populous nations on Earth. And then, as Facebook prepared to go public, suddenly the only thing business writers and analysts were interested in talking about was the money.

DEBRA AHO WILLIAMSON: Over a billion dollars less than what we, and others, had forecasted.

VIVEK WADHWA: So Facebook is now in the ranks of the big companies and essentially, it'll stop innovating the way we've seen innovation before.

ANANT SUNDARAM: We're talking about Facebook having to grow its revenues at between 25 and 30 percent per year.

HENN: That was Debra Aho Williamson, Vivek Wadhwa and Anant Sundaramm - three of literally, thousands of analysts who recently have been expressing their skepticism about Facebook's future as a business. Now, Facebook is trying to change this narrative. Today, the company is launching what it calls a micro-site, It's really an online monthly magazine devoted to stories on how Facebook can be used.

PETER JORDAN: In collaboration with over 950 million people around the world, we're creating this map of human connections that really has never existed before.

HENN: Peter Jordan is one of the site's creators. And if Facebook were a religion, Jordon is a true believer.

JORDAN: In a way, we're charting that map of human connections. And I think, you know, we don't even know what's going to be possible with this. And so for us, it's really just exciting to see what people around the world are doing with this technology that we're building here.

HENN: Each month, Facebook Stories will have a theme. This month, it's memory.

JORDAN: I mean, the first story we are going to be releasing is about this guy - Mayak Sharma - in New Delhi, India.

HENN: Sharma was struck with meningitis and hydroencephalitis.

JORDAN: And lost his entire life memories at the age of 27.

HENN: In a short film produced by Jordan, Sharma says after his illness, he didn't recognized his mother.

MAYAK SHARMA: I couldn't even recognize my own reflection. I had to get used to this idea that this is how I look.

HENN: His family and friends were a mystery.

SHARMA: It's the past that makes you who you are, right? So who am I?

HENN: According to Jordan, Sharma used Facebook to rebuild and rediscover what he lost. Sharma would contact people on the site and ask, are you from my past? Are you my friend?

JORDAN: Through this, he's been able to reclaim some of those memories that he's lost; and get a sense of who he is, and who he was.

HENN: When he got sick, Sharma had just five friends on Facebook. Now, he has close to a hundred. Although Jordan says Sharma's memory hasn't returned, he now - at least - has been told stories about his own past. And this is the kind of story Facebook is now desperate to tell about itself, one where the network's transformative - maybe, miraculous. Brian Solis, at the Altimeter Group, says Facebook needs investors, advertisers and especially employees, to buy into this idea that it is more than just another tech business built on hype.

BRIAN SOLIS: Yeah. Well, at the end of the month, the lockout for employee stocks lifts.

HENN: On August 20th, employees who own Facebook shares will be able to sell them.

SOLIS: The value of employee stocks has greatly diminished since its IPO. That has to hit the morale, at some level.

HENN: And while Mark Zuckerberg may say Facebook was not initially created to be a business, it is one now. And ultimately, its success or failure will be measured in dollars and cents.

Steve Henn, NPR News, Silicon Valley.

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