Twitter has dominated the headlines in the tech world for the last couple of days and I felt compelled to join in the conversation.
It seems the biggest talking point has been whether Twitter is overvalued. Whether the company’s performance will live up the lofty valuation or will it prove to be more hype than substance based.
The valuation is certainly lofty by any standards. The company is currently valued at around $30bn. That is a massive 50x current year revenues and around 30x forecast revenues for 2014. We are forced to apply a multiple of revenues because the company is heavily loss making and is expected to be until at least 2015.
To put that in perspective, highflying Facebook is only valued at 15x current year revenues. And Facebook has been profitable for several years.
On a price per user level Twitter also looks expensive. Its 232m active users are valued at around $110 each. Facebook’s 1.2bn active users are worth around $99 each and LinkedIn’s 259m valued at $93.
So is the company going to come crashing back down to earth or prove the doubters wrong?
My feeling is that Twitter’s valuation is frothy right now and this will drop as the hype around the company and the IPO fades. This is already starting to happen with the stock down 8% Friday.
But I also think that Twitter is a sustainable business that will go on to make lots of money and see its share price rise again as it starts to deliver on this. So it may not be worth $30bn right now. But I think it is worth more than it’s IPO value of $18bn and that the company has a really exciting future as one of the internet’s iconic tech brands.
This is why:
Twitter is one of the most mobile friendly applications out there
Twitter’s service works pretty much as well over mobile devices as it does over a PC. This is supported by the fact that 75% of its users access the service from a mobile device today and this will continue to rise. Everybody knows that all the growth in tech is in mobile both in terms of usage and, even more importantly, in terms of its share of digital advertising. Twitter is perfectly placed to take advantage of this.
Twitter’s main product blends in perfectly with its service
Twitter’s main advertising product called ‘promoted tweets’ is entirely native to the overall service. This means that its attempts to drive more revenue are likely to be less disruptive to the user experience and will be more successful as a result.
Twitter is now the world’s de facto platform for live, breaking news
In a world where we increasingly want news and information ‘now,’ Twitter meets this need better than any other platform out there. Major global events like Hurricane Sandy or the Egyptian riots are owned by Twitter because no other platform can get information out there so quickly. This is a unique attribute for Twitter and unique = $’s.
Twitter works very well alongside TV as a second screen
More and more TV companies are starting to see the value of Twitter to further engage fans before, during and after the shows. The more TV’s companies can engage fans the more valuable and sustainable those relationships will be. This is an area set for major growth in the future.
Twitter’s data is a goldmine
Apart from a few licensing deals Twitter has not leveraged the value of its data. Yet the company is sitting on the most amazing amount of live data that covers just about everything that is going on in the world. I think the company will find ways to better exploit the value of this data in the future.
Twitter cannot be unbundled
Unlike Facebook Twitter is not a bundle of services that are at risk of being broken up as newer and more fashionable services become available. Twitter does one thing and does it well. Its platform makes it possible to share concise information in a way that is truly live, immediate and global. Twitter doesn’t have to be a big as Facebook. It just needs to focus on what it does best, continue to grow its user base and learn how to monetize it in a way that does not detract too much from the user experience. I believe that it can do this.
So that’s my view and it will be interesting to watch the company grow up over the coming years and whether it lives up to expectations.