There has been so much talk recently about the new generation of social network companies and how they are not only attracting huge user bases but also huge valuations. On the one side, there is talk of multi-billion dollar valuations and on the other that this signals the start of another bubble with valuations expected to come crashing down in the not too distant future.
So I thought I’d try to break down the numbers and look at six of the hottest companies side by side to see what we can learn. I’m not interested in looking at each business individually – that’s been done to death. What I want to do is to look at the numbers relatively to see how they compare against one another and what can be learned from that.
I believe there is no doubt that some of these companies will justify their huge valuations and go on to be very large public companies and a brand that is part of our lives for many years to come. But there will be others that will be exposed as unsustainable and will end up either being sold or their growth trajectory will come to a grinding halt as they are either unable to scale or are overtaken by a competitor they didn’t see coming. I think it’s only in comparing these companies that we can start to predict who the lasting brands will be and what these businesses need to do to live up to the hype.
I’ve taken six of the most highly valued social network companies and looked at both user and revenue numbers and then followed that through to value. In all cases I’ve tried to take data that has been released by the business itself, but in the absence of that, I’ve used the most credible sources I could find or a blended version of various numbers.
While these numbers are still only estimates, and are also changing rapidly, I think it is still interesting to look at them alongside each other and there are various points that stand out for me.