On the eve of their big press conference where they are expected to announce their “Gmail killer”, Facebook has overtaken eBay in value to become the third most valuable web-based company in the US. The giant social network is now valued at around $41billion, with only Amazon ($74.4billion) and Google ($192.9billion) still ahead of it.
Of course Facebook hasn’t actually gone public yet, so all this worth is theoretical at this point. The valuations are calculated by New York-based Second Market, a stock market for private companies. Although Second Market’s data isn’t publicly released, the latest value of Facebook shares ($16) have been leaked, giving a startling insight into how much the company has grown in value in recent times. The share value was around half that figure a year ago.
A public share offering could still be years away for Facebook, which is still a very young company – but the firm’s victory in the social network wars have seen it grow to become the most visited site in the US, with ad viewing rates orders of magnitude larger than traditional news and content sites. Bloomberg reports that some clients of AdParlor, a third-party advertising house, are spending around $20,000 a day on Facebook ads.
To put the (theoretical) value of Facebook into context, they are now ahead of companies such as Expedia, who make money selling actual physical goods that have a real-world value. A better testament to the value of eyeballs there never was. Strangely, it has been Facebook themselves who stepped in to try to calm the situation down. A spokesman was quoted as saying “external attempts to forecast revenue or value the company are fundamentally speculative and should be treated as such. We’re focused on building our business to be successful over the long term.”.
If I were a representative for Facebook I think I would have responded to the new valuation by lighting a cigar with a hundred dollar bill while reclining on my throne held aloft by recently hired Google engineers – but I guess that’s why I’m not a PR man.