“a form of delusion”
- Joshua M Brown
- November 16th, 2013
SnapChat is “worth” more than $3 billion.
Okay, sure, depending on how you define the term worth.
If by worth you mean what some other person is willing to pay for it, then yes, sure. But if by worth you’re referring to the amount of value that might someday be derived from it, well then keep smoking crack. There is a finite window in which the Web 2.0 land grab will continue, and sellers should be thinking about cashing out sooner than later at this stage in the game. Especially now that all the big ones are public and bloated with massive cash war chests and “currency” in the form of obscenely high share prices.
This will not continue indefinitely, it never does. Mark Cuban didn’t wait around to change the world, he took the cash and ran.
The SnapChat kids are adorable, they probably envision a world of tomorrow in which disappearing text messages are worth trillions of dollars and change life and civilization as we know it. Or maybe they think they can break Zuckerberg’s balls for a few more months and eventually extract $5 billion from him as Facebook grows increasingly worried about “losing the younger teens!”
Fun to watch either way. Facebook can afford to pay a few billion for SnapChat and then quietly write half of it down a year from now. What it cannot afford – at least in its own mind – is to let Google get it. Let the insanity begin.
And yes, it’s a mini-bubble effecting and enriching a handful of people, but it’s not yet a full-blown bubble. Also, there’s plenty of skepticism in the media this time around. I was there last time – they were chugging the Kool-Aid like frat boys even as their very jobs were being threatened.
Here’s the Los Angeles Times this morning:
Snapchat is not even 3 years old. It’s run by a couple of twentysomethings with no prior business experience. And it has never made a cent.
Yet investors are fighting for the opportunity to throw hundreds of millions at the mobile messaging service that is all the rage with teens.
The tiny Venice Beach start-up just turned down a $3-billion all-cash offer from Facebook Inc. And then, according to the Silicon Valley rumor mill, it rejected an offer from Google Inc., this one for $4 billion…
The tech industry may not be in another bubble, said Aswath Damodaran, professor of finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University, referring to the rapid rise and fall of Internet companies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But these paper valuations are a “form of delusion,” he said.
What is pushing up the price tags? The ability of these companies to draw a fast-growing following of young users, analysts say.
Yes, young users are the key to crazy valuations. If only said young users had a clue as to their value – they might actually ask for a couple of dollars at some point rather than contentedly have their content and identities sheared from them like wool from a lamb.
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The Reformed Broker is a blog about financial markets and the economy. Joshua Brown is a New York City-based investment advisor for high net worth individuals, charitable foundations, retirement plans and corporations... More.