On September 23, 2010, Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson saw the news that Facebook was raising money at a $33 billion valuation and couldn’t help himself. He wrote a post lambasting everyone who would believe such a thing and laid out why such a claim (and valuation) was ridiculous.
Now here we sit, not even four years later, and it’s Hansson’s post, not Facebook’s valuation at the time, which looks ridiculous. A small sampling:
Facebook has been around for seven years. It has 500 million users. If you can’t figure out how to make money off half a billion people in seven years, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re unlikely to ever do.
In their most recent quarterly earnings, Facebook, now a public company with nearly 1.3 billion active users, reported revenue of $2.5 billion.
But even the then-rumored $1 billion (for the year) in revenue didn’t mean much to Hansson at the time because, “You’re only worth something if you can make money to keep…”
In that regard, Facebook managed to pull in $642 million of net income last quarter. Last fiscal year, they pulled in $1.5 billion. That’s the money they get to keep. A shit ton of it. With clearly much more flowing in this year.
And actually, the company currently has over $12 billion in cash and marketable securities.
So while Hansson may have found it utterly ridiculous that Facebook was valued by the private market at $33 billion in 2010, I can’t begin to imagine what he thinks now that it’s valued at $168 billion by the public market, not even four years later.
“Oh, well, but maybe Facebook just needs to mature, you say. If we give them just a few more years, the profit fairy might drop by and sprinkle her billions all over Facebook and its shareholders. I call fat chance.”
My point isn’t really to call out Hansson specifically here — though I did bookmark this back in 2010 thinking it may be a fun post in a few years, something which I regularly do — and I know his post is just a more serious extension of the anti-fundraising sentiment laid out by 37Signals/Basecamp founder Jason Fried. But it is something I notice again and again, particularly in the tech blogosphere/press. At a high level, it’s the mentality of “this makes no sense to me, therefore it makes no sense.”
I’ve bookmarked a lot of articles this week.