Facebook $100 billion?

At the Graphing Social Patterns conference there was a guy who said that Facebook was worth $100 billion. He was properly derided, in my view, by most of the people at the conference.

But, one of his arguments was “would you have said that Google wasn’t going to be worth $100 billion back in 1999?” Yeah, I probably would have said you were smoking good crack if you told me that back then.

Problem is that if you said that back then you would actually have been right.

Now, in eight years will Facebook be worth $100 billion?

Well, let’s go back and study the conditions that caused Google to get there.

1. They shipped a real ad platform that opened up a new kind of advertising: contextual advertising.
2. Search turned out to be one of the best ways to concentrate people with intent to do something together. Think about it. If you search for, say, baby strollers, aren’t you being concentrated into a pool of other people who are looking for baby strollers? That’s what made Google’s ad platform so potent. Does Facebook concentrate people who have intent to do something together? Not as clearly.
3. Microsoft and other major players left them alone. Ballmer admitted to the company employees in a meeting I attended that he had made a mistake by ignoring Google. His belief probably was that Google would never be a $100 million company, much less one with a $194 billion market cap.

So, will these three things happen for Facebook?

No. #3 definitely won’t. Already there are tons of companies jumping into Facebook’s waters.
#2? We don’t yet know if that will play out. I think it might. Many other people who are far smarter than me don’t think so.
#1? Yes, that one will definitely happen.

Translation: I agree with Henry Blodgett (damn, never thought I’d say that) that Mark Zuckerberg should take any money being offered to him at a $15 billion valuation. Yeah, the planets might align for Facebook to get to a higher valuation but there are very real risks that it won’t.

On the other hand, Zuckerberg has turned down such advice to “sell out” before and so far he’s been right. Is he still right? I wouldn’t be making that bet.

Comments

  1. If Mark Z doesn’t take 5, 10, 15 billion offered to him, he is CRAZY!

    Myspace > Facebook > Web 3.0 Social Application…

    The simple point is that as technology makes it easier to connect people new social applications will pop up and the herds of people will migrate from one to the other as time goes on.

    If a new Web X.0 came along that had killer features and easy migration, how many webbies will jump on that platform until the next best thing comes along.

    Social applications are so new that they have yet to cycle through the process of being NEW > EXCITING > GOTTA BE ON THAT SITE > SAME OLE SAME OLE > BORING > YESTERDAY’S FAD > OBSOLETE…

    The best gambler’s know when to take money off the table.

  2. If Mark Z doesn’t take 5, 10, 15 billion offered to him, he is CRAZY!

    Myspace > Facebook > Web 3.0 Social Application…

    The simple point is that as technology makes it easier to connect people new social applications will pop up and the herds of people will migrate from one to the other as time goes on.

    If a new Web X.0 came along that had killer features and easy migration, how many webbies will jump on that platform until the next best thing comes along.

    Social applications are so new that they have yet to cycle through the process of being NEW > EXCITING > GOTTA BE ON THAT SITE > SAME OLE SAME OLE > BORING > YESTERDAY’S FAD > OBSOLETE…

    The best gambler’s know when to take money off the table.

  3. “would you have said that Google wasn’t going to be worth $100 billion back in 1999″

    No. Nobody was talking about Google back then. However people did talk very high about other companies such as, you know, Webvan and their friends.

    Chances are the company that might be worth 100 billions in 8 years is not in the spotlight today.

  4. “would you have said that Google wasn’t going to be worth $100 billion back in 1999″

    No. Nobody was talking about Google back then. However people did talk very high about other companies such as, you know, Webvan and their friends.

    Chances are the company that might be worth 100 billions in 8 years is not in the spotlight today.

  5. I would have to agree with Herschel look at how many programs and gagets have come and gone and how many are just barely holding on since the inception of the computer age. Someday it might be worth that much but it does not have staying power.

  6. I would have to agree with Herschel look at how many programs and gagets have come and gone and how many are just barely holding on since the inception of the computer age. Someday it might be worth that much but it does not have staying power.

  7. I’d go with Blodgett on this one. After all, it’s not as if the founders wouldn’t get anything out of a $15b sale. And Facebook went away as a fad (which I believe it will, even though I love it), Mark could end up with a relative nothing. Take the money and run, perhaps leaving some on the table, and live to make another deal. Deals are like streetcards. Another one will always come along.

  8. I’d go with Blodgett on this one. After all, it’s not as if the founders wouldn’t get anything out of a $15b sale. And Facebook went away as a fad (which I believe it will, even though I love it), Mark could end up with a relative nothing. Take the money and run, perhaps leaving some on the table, and live to make another deal. Deals are like streetcards. Another one will always come along.

  9. it’s just semantics, “is Facebook worth $100B today?” is laughable, “is Facebook going to be worth $100B one day in the future?” isn’t as laughable.

  10. it’s just semantics, “is Facebook worth $100B today?” is laughable, “is Facebook going to be worth $100B one day in the future?” isn’t as laughable.

  11. Completely agree with Mark.

    Facebook has many usages and is already an established contact manager and online webapp application for many.

    I believe that, in the future, websites will try to replicate situations that are lived in “real” life, such as the classroom at school, or a full desktop environment, as facebook now supports.

  12. Completely agree with Mark.

    Facebook has many usages and is already an established contact manager and online webapp application for many.

    I believe that, in the future, websites will try to replicate situations that are lived in “real” life, such as the classroom at school, or a full desktop environment, as facebook now supports.

  13. This is really hilarious. The only thing we would learn from someone investing in Facebook today at a valuation of $15B is that the investor is desperate.

    If the Facebook team believes that they’re really worth $15B today, that must be because they also believe that can ramp up revenues to over $1B per year in the next 12 months. Either that, or they’re smoking some good crack. And if they can ramp up their revenues that fast, they don’t need to raise *any* money.

  14. This is really hilarious. The only thing we would learn from someone investing in Facebook today at a valuation of $15B is that the investor is desperate.

    If the Facebook team believes that they’re really worth $15B today, that must be because they also believe that can ramp up revenues to over $1B per year in the next 12 months. Either that, or they’re smoking some good crack. And if they can ramp up their revenues that fast, they don’t need to raise *any* money.

  15. 3. (…) Already there are tons of companies jumping into Facebook’s waters.

    But weren’t there also other companies doing that in Google’s case too (if not Microsoft)? at the same time Google was growing? Perhaps it’s the brand name weight what makes this innovative communication companies grow, as Google has been a Top of Mind, Facebook is.

    I guess Facebook might not be alone, but it has a very well valued name.

    Just let me ask:
    For what other FaceBook competitor (besides the not that full-featured, although popular Myspace) has such a “$100 Billion” question been asked?

  16. 3. (…) Already there are tons of companies jumping into Facebook’s waters.

    But weren’t there also other companies doing that in Google’s case too (if not Microsoft)? at the same time Google was growing? Perhaps it’s the brand name weight what makes this innovative communication companies grow, as Google has been a Top of Mind, Facebook is.

    I guess Facebook might not be alone, but it has a very well valued name.

    Just let me ask:
    For what other FaceBook competitor (besides the not that full-featured, although popular Myspace) has such a “$100 Billion” question been asked?

  17. I don’t think it’s rational to trade the certainty of becoming obscenely rich by selling now for the possibility of becoming even more obscenely rich later. Once you’ve got enough money for anything you could possibly want and anything you might want to do (including any non-selfish uses you may have in mind), what more do you need, unless you want to buy a country or two? That only makes sense to people like Larry Ellison who have testosterone issues.
    And compulsive gamblers.
    Unless of course he wants to build a secret underground island fortress with an army of killer robots (and who doesn’t?)

  18. I don’t think it’s rational to trade the certainty of becoming obscenely rich by selling now for the possibility of becoming even more obscenely rich later. Once you’ve got enough money for anything you could possibly want and anything you might want to do (including any non-selfish uses you may have in mind), what more do you need, unless you want to buy a country or two? That only makes sense to people like Larry Ellison who have testosterone issues.
    And compulsive gamblers.
    Unless of course he wants to build a secret underground island fortress with an army of killer robots (and who doesn’t?)

  19. @ Kevin Daly:

    Once you’ve got enough money for anything you could possibly want and anything you might want to do (including any non-selfish uses you may have in mind), what more do you need, unless you want to buy a country or two?

    More than all the economic power (and compulsive pleasure) is a loving, brave and virtuous soul. Having a good loving heart, makes the other material things just come as an addition. Human power doesn’t fulfill us in itself, it must be part of a love story for our love-starving souls to feel satisfied.

    Nevertheless, I get the point from your comment, that is perhaps a bit cartooned (or are you deeply, really serious in the “what more?” part?).

    I think that perhaps the Facebook owner doesn’t sell by a direct agreement to one of few offerers, because he thinks he can make more money by taking Facebook to the public equity market, when many offerers will compete for a price to get their part of Facebook. As I stated in my previous comment, I think it’s also a matter of brand pride and identity, I guess: Facebook is no Googler or else.

  20. @ Kevin Daly:

    Once you’ve got enough money for anything you could possibly want and anything you might want to do (including any non-selfish uses you may have in mind), what more do you need, unless you want to buy a country or two?

    More than all the economic power (and compulsive pleasure) is a loving, brave and virtuous soul. Having a good loving heart, makes the other material things just come as an addition. Human power doesn’t fulfill us in itself, it must be part of a love story for our love-starving souls to feel satisfied.

    Nevertheless, I get the point from your comment, that is perhaps a bit cartooned (or are you deeply, really serious in the “what more?” part?).

    I think that perhaps the Facebook owner doesn’t sell by a direct agreement to one of few offerers, because he thinks he can make more money by taking Facebook to the public equity market, when many offerers will compete for a price to get their part of Facebook. As I stated in my previous comment, I think it’s also a matter of brand pride and identity, I guess: Facebook is no Googler or else.

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