Friday, October 25, 2013

Twitter's Valuation

Twitter—like all of the social media—is totally dependent on advertising revenues from a purely commercial point of view. Like virtually all other so-called tech companies, it is losing money even as it is preparing to go public with an initial public offering (IPO).

The company values itself at $11.1 billion, which seems from out here, viewed through innocent eyes, as rather a huge number considering that it had revenues of $422.2 million as of September of this year, alongside losses of $133.9. Let’s annualize those figures. Extended to 12 months, revenues will be $562.9 in 2013. That would be equivalent to 1.5 percent of total Internet advertising expenditures of $36.6 billion last year. Twitter’s losses for 2013 project to $178.5 million, meaning that its revenues don’t even cover costs yet—never mind profits.

More to the point, advertising, considered as a function of the total economy, is actually much ado about nothing, as I illustrate in the last post. Total ad revenues, all media, stood at $141.7 billion in 2008—and had dropped to $135.9 billion in 2012. Doesn’t look like a growth industry at present.

The message, of course, is that the Tech Bubble continues still. Come to think of it, “tech” seems to produce them. There was the Railway Mania in Britain in the 1840s—an illuminating bit of history worth revisiting as we see the “social media” and “mobility” soaring. There are such a thing as real utility, real industry, and real technology. But when irrational expectations produce investment hysteria, even real estate can have an unreal bubble—based on “innovation” in financing instruments—another “technology.”

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