Google+ has gone from being something fun to talk about in tech circles to a full debate on what it really means for the firm. Is it a threat to Facebook? Is this Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) response to Facebook threatening them? Perhaps it’s just Google threatening every major technology firm and reminding the world that one never knows what they might come up with next. Either way, we think it’s much bigger than what the firm led it to be when first launching.
Google seems to have finally created a new social platform that will allow it to test out god knows what to an unsuspecting user. Make no mistake, anytime Google offers something for “free”, don’t assume they never plan on monetizing it. After all, anything that becomes popular on Google has the ability to be monetized in one form or another with enough thought and that’s why we love Google+.
Google+ to us looks like a Trojan horse being offered to anyone who uses a social platform on a regular basis. Still, we doubt its ultimate goal is to take down Facebook. After all, as we love to point out Coca Cola (NYSE:KO) and Pepsi (NYSE:PEP) both exist on the same planet and are profitable. To assume it’s a winner take all situation is just foolish.
Google has a knack for successfully cranking up a massive amount of heat when one of its soft launches gets huge buzz and traction. It’s almost as if some guy in a Google cubicle is just waiting at his computer to hit “enter” to launch phase 2 of Google+ once a certain level of viral chatter occurs. We continue to rate Google a “buy” because we see Google+ as the next catalyst for the firm, and see plenty of room for growth over the long term.
Is This the Next YouTube?
When Google first acquired YouTube, investors were initially thrilled, then kind of confused on how it could be monetized, and then thrilled again when it turned into a superstar. Is Google+ the same type of situation? It definitely has the potential. Google isn’t just spending its time thinking about how it can blow money on things that will bring zero positive value in some form. Even if it seems like Google generated something useless, well then they just got you somehow.
For some reason, people often forget that one of Google’s biggest goals is to continually become more integrated into your daily life as time passes. Point in case why they launched Google+! Perhaps we won’t see Google+ start spitting out cash like an ATM tomorrow but given the nature of the platform, we feel that this could be the firm's next superstar, without question.
Google+ Shouldn’t Be a Miss
Today Google has the luxury of knowing ahead of time that a good social platform (Facebook, not MySpace) can become extremely lucrative. Now that the firm knows money can be made, the only real question is whether Google+ will be sufficiently adopted by users. It’s almost like being the new kid at a new school. The new kid knows it could be a great or horrible experience and that on some level the outcome is more dependent on perception than reality. Moving ahead, we think the firm has put together a platform that shouldn’t disappoint and should become the next pillar of strength for Google.
Laying the Bricks of the Empire
The recent acquisition of several top ad companies by Google may just seem like “business as usual” but we don’t think so. Instead, we think these firms were bought for two reasons. The first reason was to continue expanding in new ways within the ad world but second was to integrate these ad platforms with Google+. It makes sense too because successful Facebook ads leverage images more than text which is something Google has yet to master. Given the recent acquisition of these ad display companies and the launch of Google+, we think that the firm could be harnessing a whole new world of revenue as it expands the Google empire.
Call to Action
Google+ only reinforces our belief that the firm is a “buy” given this new high profile catalyst. In our view, it's large positive catalysts like this that will allow the stock to continue traveling higher. As we said earlier, we think the firm has much bigger plans for Google+ in other ways yet to be revealed. A perfect example is the quiet submission of Google+ for the iPhone, which is now live. The firm has successfully sucked up plenty of positive PR, gained traction, and maximized with Google+. The end result of all this should be Google’s stock ascending to higher levels despite its size, in our view.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.