As expected, social network Facebook has announced a new messaging service at their press event today, though it’s not quite what people expected from the company. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was thought to be preparing a new email service branded with the familiar Facebook name, a bid to compete with Gmail, Google‘s (NASDAQ: GOOG) email and messaging service that currently supports 193.3 million users. Facebook will instead launch a “modern messaging system” that foregoes many of the conventions of traditional email services.
Zuckerberg described email as “too formal” at today’s presser, saying that Facebook’s new messaging services will be simple and streamlined compared to older email offerings. “We think we should take features away from messaging—it should be simple,” said the 26 year-old CEO.
The still unnamed service will, however, include email support, in addition to IM, Facebook messaging, and SMS. Email will not be the service’s primary function. It will aim to incorporate an easy to read and access stream of messages from a user’s full list of email, messaging, and social network accounts, though it will not have IMAP support when it launches. It will use your Facebook friend list to automatically build a contact list for the new service. The new messaging service will be rolled out gradually over the coming months.
A report from Bloomberg this morning, citing data from private equity broker SecondMarket Inc., named Facebook as the third most valuable web company in the United States right now. Privately held shares in the social network are valued at $16, putting the company’s worth at $41 billion, surpassing eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) and placing the company just behind Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Google.
Facebook themselves continue to downplay their estimated value, emphasizing that they are looking to continue building their business before discussing an IPO. “External attempts to forecast revenue or value the company are fundamentally speculative and should be treated as such. We’re focused on building our business to be successful over the long term,” said Facebook spokesman Jonathan Thaw.
As of this writing, Anthony Agnello did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.