Facebook acquired mobile commerce startup, Karma. This acquisition didn't get nearly the attention it deserved.
As Chris Dixon wrote about Facebook's Business Model:
The key question when trying to value Facebook’s stock is: can they find another business model that generates significantly more revenue per user without hurting the user experience? (And can they do that in an increasingly mobile world where display ads have been even less effective.)
If they do that, the company is probably worth a lot more than the expected $100B IPO valuation. If they don’t, it’s probably worth a lot less.
Karma has proven that it can create great e-commerce experiences on mobile devices out of social data, Facebook's acquisition gives them a valuable asset that they can use to unlock social commerce revenue.
While there is obviously still risk in this model, Facebook users have already proven that they are willing to engage in social commerce on the platform. In July of 2009, Facebook facilitated about 1 commerce transaction (virtual goods) per year for every 3 users of their site, making an average of 30 cents for every user who signed up for the site.
If they can mirror and grow that success on a 900 million user audience, it's a massive revenue line for them. Based on some of the historical and industry averages, I put together a spreadsheet that allows you to see how much Facebook Gifts could make in a year based on your own assumptions (make your own assumptions for the yellow numbers, watch the grey numbers change).
Congrats to both the teams at Facebook and Karma, I hope this is a case where the combination is bigger than the sum of it's parts.