Intelligent Energy

Skewedonomics? Facebook's worth $100B, trouncing companies that actually make things

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Facebook coaxes your valuable personal information away from you. It has leveraged that into a $1 billion profit, and an enormous market cap. Woe betide manufacturers! Sound off here.

We interrupt this program to bring you an astounding comparison, as news breaks that Facebook is indeed worth up to $100 billion....

Is there anything wrong with the picture portrayed below, or this the way capitalism should work? Your answers to this curious question of our cyber-obsessed times are most welcome. It doesn't matter where they fall in the philosophical or political spectrum, just as long as they fall into the comments section at the bottom of this post!

A PICTURE OF HOW CAPITALISM WORKS:

Facebook. What it does: Manufactures nothing. Dupes you into freely giving it valuable and revealing information about yourself without financially compensating you (it does provide you a "service"). It leverages this into profits, last year making $1 billion. Your personal information can potentially fall into the wrong hands, possibly leading to identify theft and worse. How much it's worth: $100 billion.

vs.

The following companies that all manufacture useful things that we routinely write about here on SmartPlanet's energy section, and across SP. In many instances the products directly generate electricity in a "renewable" manner, reducing the world's dependence on fossil fuels that pollute, that spew global warming-linked CO2, and that are at the root of volatile global economics and conflict. I've included other types of manufacturers - like car makers, for instance - most of whom are "greening up" products (as is Facebook, which is attempting to cut the voracious need for electricity at its huge data centers) that we all use everyday.

Format: company name (what it manufactures): how much it's worth.

  • Suntech (solar panels): $598 million
  • Yingli (solar panels): $655 million
  • Vestas (wind turbines): $2.3 billion
  • First Solar (solar panels): $3.7 billion
  • Babcock & Wilcox (small nuclear reactors, among others): $3.8 billion
  • Peugeot Citroen (cars): $4.5 billion
  • Sinovel (wind turbines): $4.9 billion
  • GCL Poly (polysilicon for solar panels): $5.3 billion
  • Fiat (cars): $8 billion
  • Areva (nuclear reactors): $9.5 billion
  • Philips (LEDs, healthcare, appliances): $20.7 billion
  • EADS (aerospace/aircraft): $27.9 billion
  • ArcelorMittal (steel): $32.8 billion
  • General Motors (cars): $38.1 billion
  • Ford (cars): $46.9 billion
  • Boeing (aerospace/aircraft): $56 billion
  • Daimler AG (cars): $61.1 billion
  • Volkswagen (cars): $80.2 billion
  • Siemens (trains, lightbulbs, wind turbines, solar panels): $87.4 billion
  • Facebook (nothing!): $100 billion
  • Toyota (cars): $129.2 billion
  • General Electric (trains, wind turbines, jet engines, appliances, light bulbs): $198.2 billion

market capitalization figures from Reuters, except for Facebook's $100 billion, which the press is widely reporting today in reports confirming that Facebook plans an initial public stock offering.

photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from Brian Solis via Wikimedia

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure