Facebook: Standing upto formidable expectations
Facebook’s mid May 2012 IPO is pegged at $103bn. Given that FB made $1 billion revenue last year, that 103X Facebook’s earnings. Assuming a 50% increment in revenues this year and an equal amount in the year next, It’s about 70X this year’s estimated earning and about 50X next year’s estimated earnings. To put that in perspective, it’s about 1/2 of Google’s market cap, Facebook’s revenue, meanwhile, is less than 1/10th of Google’s revenue and Facebook’s revenue, is about 1/3rd of Google’s free cash flow.
103X looks very very steep in that perspective and it is quite a challenge to keep the growth engines revving at such pace especially with decelerating revenue growth. Facebook investors are really counting on some massive cash flow growth in future years. Given that Facebook has registered profit and revenue decline in 1Q,2012, the valuation just proves that Facebook is going to have tough time meeting upto the market expectations of earnings.
To make matters a little interesting, Facebook‘s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has clearly said that Facebook’s business is designed to support its social mission, and not vice versa. Of course, Facebook appears to be just at the beginning of “monetizing” what will soon be more than 1 billion global users. Many believe that Facebook has grossly underinvested in its monetization over the last few years and that even a little more focus on this could produce huge results.In addition to the products it has already rolled out, Facebook could well launch other huge products in the future, such as a search engine that competes with Google, or a distributed ad network that competes with Google.With respect to both of those businesses, Facebook’s vast number of users and vast network of “like” buttons all around the Internet could prove to be major competitive weapons.
Facebook could also take on a position of being “user identity” on the internet – a quasi UIDAI. Facebook is quite really there in terms of making Facebook logins as the alternate logins in many other internet destinations. Leveraging social discoverability and making Facebook the generic on Internet is key for Facebook’s run through a successful listing and beyond.
With 500 million of the 900 million users logging into facebook from mobile, and smartphone phenomenon on the rise, Facebook looks very brilliently poised to take advantage of the huge numbers in mobiles. If Mobiles be the access windows of Internet, Facebook has a pretty strong position on mobile usage which should drive growth.
Just how the numbers would stak up is anybody’s guess out there.