In this post Facebook IPO world, the only positive financial impact the social network has had comes from buying up other companies. For example, while Facebook can't get its own stock price up, as it hit a new low today trading below the $30 mark now, speculation that the social media company might buy up Opera has the browser maker's shares up almost 20 percent. At first, that dissonance doesn't make sense: Why would investors get excited about Opera joining a falling social network? But, in this social media bubble, getting bought out by a company with a lot of cash is a certain way to make money, as we saw with Instagram, which Facebook purchased using $1 billion of its $4 billion cash pile.
That economic impact doesn't do much for the greater economy, but for a single company and its investors, it's the big ticket. Instagram wasn't making any money before Facebook's buy. It doesn't make Facebook any money now. But it made Instagram's creators and investors rich. Plus, after the buy, Facebook's own financial failure has pushed the value of Instagram down to $977 million, according to The Wall Street Journal's David Benoit. The speculators say Opera will cost Facebook in the billion dollar range, too. If that big buy does go through, Facebook will have this same happy effect on some Opera investors and execs. After that, though, then what?